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Pressure On Manchester City Relieved as Talk of Quadruple Fades

The talk among many Manchester City supporters about a quadruple had reached a fever pitch following last Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over Spurs at White Hart Lane. Delusions of grandeur and historically unprecedented feats had begun to sweep City’s fandom with those (myself included) who wrote off the possibility of winning more than two trophies this season as “non-believers.”

It is amazing what one setback can do to the confidence and psyche of supporters who are often accustomed to seeing their side bottle it on the biggest occasions. Chelsea’s 1-0 victory at the Etihad on Monday had a debilitating effect on many of the more unrealistic Manchester City fans. From the talk of four trophies, discourse shifted to whether Manuel Pellegrini should be sacked if the Blues do not win the title, and whether a top 3 finish was realistic. As someone who never bought into the quadruple hype and have insisted for two months that Chelsea is the title favorite, the classic overreaction was comical and reminded me of the days when our supporters were largely bitter and fatalistic.

The club has now dropped more points at home than in the title winning season of 2011-12 and lost as many games as that season. City’s four remaining away matches against top seven opposition suddenly look daunting to most fans. But reality is that nothing has changed since last week. Jose Mourinho generally does not lose big matches and the idea that City was going to smash Chelsea was always unrealistic. This was fueled by a combination of masterful Mourinho mind-games and an indulgently irresponsible media.

But what the defeat has done is taken pressure off a Blues side that was under increasing stress to roll up bigger scorelines while playing mouthwatering attacking football. The demands that City entertain AND continue winning in all competitions despite fixture pileup and continued fitness issues were too much for a relatively unsuccessful club historically to handle.  For all the talk that Manchester City has outspent everyone in football (except perhaps Chelsea) over the past six seasons, the club does not have the ethos of pedigree of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern. Most of the players on the Blues side have very few trophy successes to their name and don’t have the experience in the squad of big club successes required to maintain form under such lofty and impractical expectation.

The naivety and self-delusion of some Blues supporters, many of whom are recent converts to the club due to contemporary success, can now be safely cast aside. It was this delusion that led to a runaway train of idealistic expectations about style combined with unsophisticated conclusions about how strong the team was.

Liberated from the ridiculous weight of these expectations, I believe the Blues will play with more freedom and less tension in the coming fixtures. No longer are some City supporters boasting about possibly winning the Champions League and completing a domestic treble. Instead realism has entered the picture. Try and defeat Sunderland, a side who has taken more points of City in the last three years in the Premier League than anyone, at Wembley and lift a single trophy. Play well in some critical matches away from the Etihad and stay in contention for the league title.

The burden of expectations began to weigh Manchester City down right after Christmas when the team had difficulty defeating Crystal Palace at home. It then intensified after a poor showing against Blackburn in the FA Cup when the Blues were fortunate to secure a replay. The League Cup provided a respite but controversy laden league wins over Newcastle and Spurs as well as a struggle at home against Watford in the FA Cup showed the club was tiring and beginning to buckle. The loss to Chelsea brought into the open what was apparent for weeks to objective observers — Pellegrini’s side was wobbling badly.

With the realization that Manchester City aren’t world beaters but simply a very good Premier League team with title hopes and life in four competitions, the new realism should serve to galvanize the club. The nervousness of recent performances could very well give way to the type of loose, free-flowing football we had come to expect from the Blues. For that, everyone will win.

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  1. Ianor

    February 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Toby! It was monday night, the last time chelsea smashed city in their own back yard where no opposition team kept clean sheet for more than three&half years. Don’t look this 1-0. If yu add the three chances that hit the crossbar the final score reads this as jon champion said 1 vs chelsea 4. So its smash. Isn’t it?

  2. bennett311

    February 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    “Typical City” was retired when Aguero scored the title winner against QPR. But I understand long time MCFC fan frustrations.

    The club will always say they are competing to win every competition and why shouldn’t they? Thus it’s easy to say they should win a quadruple.

    It’s one loss. City will move on.

  3. christian

    February 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

    We were never winning four trophies this year. Nor were we going to win three. This influx of know-it-all supporters with their heads in the clouds is becoming embarrassing.

    Success takes time. The great clubs of Europe with all their silverware take years of building and reinforcing. We’ve only just begun.

    The MCFC project has come into some success earlier than anticipated. We can’t even begin to deal with the front in Europe when we’re still figuring out how to belong in the class of United or Chelsea or Arsenal.

    Expectations have to be curtailed and made far more realistic. Can we win the BPL this year? Yes, I think we can but I’ve been with Kartik for a while in thinking Chelsea would more than likely climb to the top of the hill.

    • Frill Artist

      February 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

      A realistic City fan. This is really shocking. Maybe pigs really can fly.

  4. Ianor

    February 7, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Agree the editor. Can’t see them winning fa cup as chelsea will smash them again. Na way they can win cham championsleague. Premierleague is between them and chelsea. League cup they will probably win that trophy.

    • Toby Teasdale

      February 7, 2014 at 6:35 am

      “chelsea will smash them again”

      Really, when was the last time?

      I’d say you were a Muppet but can’t remember if it’s spelt with one or two m’s (i.e. dumb or dummy)

  5. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    February 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve given a long explanation here but my line that matters the most is “But reality is that nothing has changed since last week.”

    But my point is the message boards which I frequent have gone from us being the new Milan of Sachi era to the old boring boring city. Classic overreaction but it may serve to keep the pressure off the squad which is my distinct hope.

  6. Andre

    February 6, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    This is so dumb. City’s chances at each of the four trophies are almost exactly what they were a week ago.

    They will probably beat Sunderland in the League Cup final. Have a very tough match against Chelsea in the FA Cup. They are slight underdogs against Barcelona in the Champions League. And they are very good position in the prem.

    They sit second in the table, 2 points off the leaders, with a +41 GD. That is a full 12 goals better than anyone else. There schedule is not very tough from here on either. Away at Liverpool and Arsenal will be tough but they have a lot of easy matches coming up. The only thing that happened on Monday was they got beat by a goal by a very good team.

    Maybe they win four titles, maybe none, maybe somewhere in between. Regardless, the Chelsea game doesn’t impact my view of their season. And w/r/t City fans who were thinking of a quad… I seriously doubt any of them are asking if, “a top 3 finish is realistic.”

  7. Toby Teasdale

    February 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Get a grip!!

    One loss in 17 games and it is all doom and gloom.

    In case you hadn’t noticed Monday nights team was shorn of Aguero, Nasri and Fernandinho. Negredo was carrying a niggle and it seems that Milner was unable to play.

    Who knows how the match would have panned out had one of City’s early chances gone in.

    De Michelis in midfield was a fish out of water, a complete disaster who makes Garcia look quick. It was essentially 10 playing 11 and we ended up well beaten.

    I what the FA cup tie with interest and NO trepidation.

    • Philz

      February 7, 2014 at 12:15 am

      You conveniently forgot the 3 shots that hit the bar. Selective memory much..

      • Evan

        February 7, 2014 at 9:11 am

        Hitting the woodwork is still considered off target.

  8. Yas

    February 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Who cares what some plastic thinks that sits at a desk thousands of miles away and comments on something that he didn’t actually see.

  9. Steve

    February 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Come on city!

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