On the back of the most enthralling, satisfying and successful season in the club’s history, there should be an air of positivity surrounding Manchester City. ‘That goal’ from Aguero, and the numerous connotations it brought should have been the dawning of a new era, the ‘Blue Moon rising’ at last. The fans, the players and the manager should be in good spirits. They should be, right?
It would be misguided to claim City are in crisis, but I think we can all agree there is something not quite right at the moment. On the face of it, their start to the domestic campaign has been a solid one. Two points from the summit of the Premier League, the Citizen’s have picked up points without really hitting their stride. Could be the ‘sign of Champions’, as we often hear? But this age old cliché has not really been bandied about in regards to City. Coupled with the fact that European success is once again proving elusive, manager Roberto Mancini looks a frustrated manager, under a lot of pressure.
The cool exterior that was so evident in his early days at the club has been tarnished by tantrums and flare ups in recent weeks. He’s fumed at his players, the officials, City executives and even cameramen! These outbursts, that were once sparse, are becoming unwelcome and recurrent. It doesn’t paint an overly pretty picture and it is having a big effect on his judgement when it comes to matters both on and off the pitch.
The tactical awareness that that was so prominent last season seems to have deserted him. Mancini was able to detach himself from the emotional stranglehold of games and make clever, objective substitutions and team selections. Decisions that sometimes proved unpopular with supporters, but often left the Italian vindicated as City performed excellently throughout the campaign.
This season, Mancini has made similarly bold decisions that haven proven to be considerably less successful. I recall him throwing on four strikers in an attempt to salvage a draw in Amsterdam. An untypically reckless substitution that in the end could have lead to the concessions of further goals. Theres the ‘3-5-2’ system that he looked set to implement from outset of this season. But this proved to be unpopular with the players and had limited success. It looks to have been subsequently shelved for the time being, with the tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 making a welcome reappearance for the City players.