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Has Complacency Cost Manchester City’s Season?

The concluding moments of the 2011/2012 Premier League season are ones ingrained into the memories of most avid fanatics of the English football scene. Sergio Agüero’s last ditch attempt flashing past Paddy Kenny in the dying seconds of the season coupled with the celebrations that naturally ensued in light of Manchester City’s first top flight title since 1968 were scenes truly extraordinary. Never before had the title been seized in such sensational fashion and never before had it taken a team until the 94th minute of the final league game of the season to clinch the title.

No matter what angle you witnessed this from, the direction which City were heading in seemed to be one widely accepted as an undisputed eventuality by all. The Manchester City fans, the Manchester United fans, the neutrals and everybody seemed to agree the Citizens could only get stronger with no definitive cessation in sight. They’d conquered the English league, overthrowing Sir Alex’s United empire in the process and now they were ready to reach the summit of the European game.

When casting a glance back at City’s success since their Abu Dhabi United Group takeover in 2008, complacency is not a word that can often be linked with them or their tendencies in the transfer market. Transfers such as Sergio Agüero (£38m), Robinho (£32.5m) and Edin Džeko (£32m) set down a marker for City’s success and sent out a clear message from chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak that he would spend however much was needed for the blue half of Manchester to fill up their trophy cabinet. Needless to say, after banking their first EPL title in 2011/2012, the thought of City going out buying another host of world class, mega money superstars was not uncommon and not altogether far-fetched.

The reality of the situation, however, saw City have what can only be best described as an utterly passable summer in the transfer market and a similar modest approach to activity during January. The defensive pairing of Nastasic and Maicon were viewed as nothing more than cover to the starting eleven, while Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair proved to be as uninspiring as their transfers suggested, both struggling to even make the bench on a regular basis for City. Further to this City splashed £16m on Benfica’s Javi Garcia who, despite being City’s ‘big money summer signing’, has struggled majorly to imprint himself on the starting line-up. City then waved goodbye to a relatively forgettable January transfer window by selling on problem child Mario Balotelli to AC Milan. Of course the debate of whether Mario was too much of a hindrance to remain at the club is another story for another day, however the facts remain that Mario scored 13 league goals for City in the 2011/2012 season. The very same season in which City won the league by having a goal difference of 8 more goals than Manchester United. Without Balotelli’s goals City would not have won the league. To be selling players of this magnitude without replacement gave the impression that City felt the plateau which they had reached in the season previous would be enough to see them continue taking strides forward as a European force. By resting on their laurels however, City have somehow managed to make their season implode. Questionable performances in the Premier League has seen City slip 12 points behind league leaders Manchester United and Mancini’s imperious, almost arrogant approach to the Champions League saw his side take an early bow out of Europe at the first hurdle.

When addressing the Ferguson/Mancini battle it is clear to see where both sides may have felt it necessary to strengthen their side in the pre-season. United lost the league on goal difference, which naturally provoked Ferguson into making a play for arguably the best striker in the EPL in Robin van Persie. The transfer has subsequently paid dividends with the Dutchman netting an incredible 19 times in 27 appearances thus far. City however took a much more reserved approach to the transfer market and largely spent the summer covering up on their losses, Sinclair in for the outgoing Johnson, Garcia being seen as a means to replacing De Jong. It was most uncharacteristic of Mancini and a risk that appears to have backfired stupendously. Likewise City’s performances have reflected this unenthusiastic approach to the season on numerous occasions so far and left them floundering in an abyss of touch-and-go, half-baked domestic success.

To say the title race is dead in the water however would be a simplistic and somewhat bold statement to make considering the antics of both Manchester clubs last season. With United squandering an eight point lead with only six remaining games surely no title race is over after only 27 games. Or is it? City do not look like a side capable of overturning this deficit and should be looking anxiously over their shoulder at Chelsea and Spurs sniffing around their prized second place. Several off-key performances from Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany followed up by a dip in goalscoring output from familiar faces such as Tevez and Agüero begs the question of where exactly the blues are going to find that extra bit of inspiration or reserve to push on and overturn the 12 point gap. As it stands the points difference seems insurmountable for City and thus places an even greater onus on their FA Cup campaign. Having drummed up high-scoring victories against Championship outfits Leeds United and Watford, as well as grinding out a tricky win at Stoke, the Blues find themselves ready to face Barnsley in the 6th Round. Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton still remain in the competition but City will certainly see this as their most realistic focus for success now. A season trophyless would be viewed as catastrophic by all at the club, especially given City’s new found stature since winning the FA Cup two seasons ago.

Would it be too much to ask for Mancini to keep his managerial role should they not win a competition this season? In today’s footballing climate of knee-jerk reactions and constant interchanging of managers the answer is almost certainly not the one Roberto would be hoping for.

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  1. christian

    February 28, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Kartik had a fantastic take on City this week on the podcast. I would suggest the author of this article take a listen to it as well as anyone else reading the site. Manchester City is still a club finding it’s footing. All of this success is new and amazing for us supporters. To finish second this year and further reinforce for the coming the years is a success no matter how you look at it. United are still the best team in England and for that matter one of the top two or three in the world.

  2. Mufc77

    February 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    “The Manchester City fans, the Manchester United fans, the neutrals and everybody seemed to agree the Citizens could only get stronger with no definitive cessation in sight”

    Now that’s funny.

    • Wongo1

      February 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      No matter what angle you witnessed this from, the direction which City were heading in seemed to be one widely accepted as an undisputed eventuality by all. The Manchester City fans, the Manchester United fans, the neutrals and everybody seemed to agree the Citizens could only get stronger with no definitive cessation in sight. They’d conquered the English league, overthrowing Sir Alex’s United empire in the process and now they were ready to reach the summit of the European game.

      Really Paul Nixon? Really? Conquer Europe, REALLY!!! LMFAO!!!! With a manager who is well known to be extremely poor in Europe. The only thing everyone agreed on was that it would be a Manchester tussle for the Premiership again this year, that was it.

  3. Frill Artist

    February 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    “They’d conquered the English league, overthrowing Sir Alex’s United empire in the process and now they were ready to reach the summit of the European game.”

    Winning the league on goal difference against a 10 man team hardly counts as conquering or overthrowing. Then again sensationalism draws readers.

    • Tim

      February 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Actually, you know that City won the league by beating United twice, including an absolute thrashing (hello, goal difference!) at Old Trafford. But don’t let facts spoil your pity party.

      • Wongo1

        February 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

        Yes Tim, City spent $600 million and yes they beat United at OT 6-1 and at home 1-0. But Frill is correct, City did not topple United as the sentence says. Chelsea toppled United, they won the league when Jose took over by a good margin and stayed on top for a couple years.

        As ever SAF showed Chelsea that you can get to the summit but staying there year in year out is a very different story.

        So City scraped by last year on goal difference and this year United and the old man are showing them that they still have a long way to go. Mind you the season is not over yet but it does look bleak for a team that claims to not have spent money in the off season when in fact they spent significantly. They miss out on 1 player and they can’t compete that sounds like a bunch of malarkey.

        • Why?

          February 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm

          Well Wrongo both City and Utd’s Squad cost around the same as each other the difference being fergie has signed every player at utd, unlike Mancini.

          Why does it seem to get on Utd ‘followers’ nerves some much if other clubs spend big on players like utd always did from Law to Berbatov? They had no equals Money wise threw the 80’s but were crap! Also biggest spenders of the 90’s, but of course this dosen’t count! LOL Their followers seem pissed off at chelsea and City’s spending, don’t recall them being to mithered when their squad cost 3 times more than the next nearest.

          Some news for you, Mancini has spent around the same if not less than Utd NETT since he took over at City. I’m afraid it’s just another case of Utd fan fantasy world that they think other wise like Fergie not wanting Tevez or Utd some how earned the money and played loads of youth players when they won their first Premier league. Pure fantasy!

          Oh and getting smacked 6-1 wasn’t the only difference between the two last year the fact Utd went to the Etihad and defended for their lives was also embarrassing, they even continued to do so after being 1 down!

          • Frill Artist

            February 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

            Rubbish. I would pull up the financial Costa of each player adding up to a total for each team but I’m on my phone. City’s spending eclipses Man U.

          • Why?

            February 28, 2013 at 6:06 am

            Mancini has spent around £160m nett. Fergie around £150m nett at a quick look. Not much difference at all especially when you compare Utd’s spending to City’s in the 80’s, 90’s or 00’s eh?. City have spent more in what 3 of the last 30 years!! WOW

          • Wongo1

            February 28, 2013 at 9:50 am

            Why I have compiled spend since 92 and if The Gaffer can tell me how to get a spreadsheet up on here I’ll share it with you, i think you might be very surprised at the Man united spend numbers. It is always easy to say United “bought” their titles because that is the lazy ABU way!!

            • The Gaffer

              February 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

              Best way is to send it to me at thegaffer[at]epltalk[dot]com

              The Gaffer

          • Why?

            February 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm

            Wrongo,, why have you compiled any thing from 92′ ?? I do realise your busy being bitter towards city as usual but I said Fergie has spent around the same if not more than Mancini nett since Mancini took over, or are you just ignoring that? Why not do a spread sheet on how much the team you decided to follow has won compared to city? As I didn’t mention that either! Lol

            If you wish to compare both clubs spending in the prem then it would have to be gross as money makes as utd found. only after success can clubs sell many players at profit. Why do you think it is rare for clubs to profit with out success?

            I will post Mancini’s and fergies signings since Mancini took over if you like but it is like I said.

          • Why?

            February 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm

            Wrongo, a question for you if Utd didn’t buy there success then why were they by far the biggest spending team of the 80’s (before their success) they had a squad costing £18m in 1989 it may not sound a lot today but to put it into perspective Liverpool the league winners in the same year had the next expensive squad at around £6m. So how, if Utd didn’t buy their success did that come about? Hmmmm must feel strange sat in that fantasy world you lot built up for ya selves eh? Of course maybe you could explain where it came from without saying banks or owners!

          • Wongo1

            February 28, 2013 at 4:10 pm

            Actually I am not bitter towards City or any other team. I respect the fact that they are challengers. My issue was with the writer of this article making it seem like City had knock United down, which was and is definitely not the case. If you read what I wrote the only team that has done that lately somewhat is Chelsea!!

          • Why?

            February 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm

            Actually that’s not true is it? You came here defending the incredibly bitter ‘piss artist’ who’s pathetic one liners are always filled with bitterness toward City or who ever dare challenge the team he glory hunts for. For some strange reason he seems to think utd has the right to win every thing and if they dont he’s extra bitter! Lol.
            You talk about City spending big, yet like many are unaware of how your own team got to be where they are now. Where did that £18m squad come from? Who were these youth players in 92?

            City won the league last year and more than deserved it, just being Utd is worth a least 6-10 point a season alone in dodgy decisions after years of ref slating by the manager to get into a position of favour, and I would expect no less as it would be the same for any manger who was so successful they get power but it is worth those points every year.

            The truth is modern football success is dependent on spending it starts with the beginning of the prem Utd out spent every one at the right time this in turn started to give them money that was not there for Liverpool in their domination. Now the only way to truly get up there is to spend big exactly like Utd did!

            This is an article about City, where the city fans here are quite gracious towards Utd read their comments. Now read the Utd fans comments it’s all ‘they didn’t win it’ kinda crap isn’t it? It always is, where is the grace? I tell you where hiding behind the bitterness! I know many gracious Utd fans but most don’t frequent web pages that have the ‘frill artist types and I can’t blame them.

  4. christian

    February 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Ugh. United are on a historic pace and are a class above everyone this year. Yes, City’s transfers have been terrible this year but give the Red Devils their due and I’m saying this as a City supporter.

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