I flew through London Heathrow Airport the other day wearing a retro Manchester City shirt. When asked about it in Terminal 5, I simply stated it was a Rodney Marsh kit (which it is not — it is a generic kit from the 1971-72 season when Marsh joined the club and the team collapsed falling from first in the table March 15 to a finishing spot of fourth), which was understood by the gentleman asking the question. “What a player!” was the response I got when Marsh’s name was mentioned.
Rodney Marsh spends most of his time these days in Tampa, Florida but still has his finger on the City pulse. When I have spoken to him at Tampa Bay Rowdies games over the course of the past few years, he has been able to stay informed on City partly through his contacts but mostly through the initiation only a truly great footballer has for his former club.
So when Marsh told TalkSport the other day that Yaya Toure was unhappy at Manchester City, I took it very seriously.
“People close to (Manchester) City tell me Yaya Toure is not very happy and he’s one of their great players.
“When you start to hear rumblings from within the camp, and you see the way Toure played last weekend ( versus Sunderland), when he was strolling around and didn’t look interested, I’m wondering now if it will all go a little bit the other way.”
While Toure quickly put down the speculation, Manchester City’s indifferent play away from Eastlands this season indicates a side that is not properly motivated and going through the motions. Perhaps the mercenary tag that had been lost under Roberto Mancini, particularly at the epic end of the 2011-12 season, is back, considering the lack of interest top stars at City including Toure seem to show during adverse away matches.
The two took to Twitter to exchange messages beginning with Toure
“Hey buddies, don’t listen to the rumors, I’m happy at city..the Toure brothers are in Casa and are missing Manchester.”
“Ask yourself this. Why would Yaya dash to deny a rumour from an old man sitting in Starbucks in Florida?”
“Out of respect for my fans and my club!! How can I be unhappy when I get so much love and respect from everyone in city?”
I have noted at times earlier in the season the lack of passion and enthusiasm Toure is demonstrating at times during matches. While outsiders have often accused the Ivorian of laziness on the pitch, he seems to always pipe up in the right spots and critical times in matches. While this season Toure has added free-kick excellence to his repertoire, his influence in the middle of the park has been far less significant than anytime since joining Manchester City in the summer of 2010.
Like many of the other experienced members of City’s playing staff, when things do not go well for the side away from home Toure appears to lack the passion for the cause he previously had. We’ve heard repeatedly that Manuel Pellegrini is a player’s manager as opposed to the motivational tactics of Roberto Mancini that were direct and often crippling to morale. Whether these characterizations are fair or not, Mancini appeared to have gotten far more out of the squad than Pellegrini has to this stage in his young tenure.
My sense is Marsh is on to something. The cracks at Manchester City were obvious to anyone who bothered to pay attention this summer. As a supporter of the club, I came into the season simply hoping the side would not fall out of the top 4 even while pundits less attuned to the situation at the club predicted a Premier League title. At this stage in the season, I am not even sure City can sustain a viable challenge for the top 4 positions, while qualification for any European competition may hinge upon the ability to win a domestic cup competition, which seems highly unlikely given the inconsistency in the squad.
While it has become fashionable for many in the media, some of whom picked the Blues to run away with the title this season, to blame Joe Hart for the club’s embarrassingly poor start to the season (Manchester City has lost four games this season in the league more quickly than the team lost its first league match either of the previous two season and faster than the team lost its second league match in the 2009-10 season when Mark Hughes was sacked in December and the club finished fifth in the league), the reality is that Hart’s woes have simply compounded obvious problems of squad cohesion, motivation and managerial tactics.
Marsh doesn’t come to conclusions in a vacuum, and doesn’t say things about City for dramatic effect. He’s a former player who wears his support for the club on his sleeve even when working in the media. I tend to believe his commentary has validity when it comes to this situation.
Editor’s note: Read more news, analysis and opinion about the Citizens on our Manchester City team page.