Tag Archives: Roberto Mancini

Clash of Manchester

24 Apr

I wrote an article about 2 weeks ago that the title race was all but sewn up and returning back to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet. That may have been a little preempted.

Initially it was City’s to lose – to which they did. Manchester United’s advantage meant that they were clear favourites for the title – and they haven’t grasped their opportunity.

Ferguson and Mancini - clash of the titans.

My point? Not one club this season has had a firm grip on the league title, unlike in previous years, where the eventual winners had begun to run away with it some point in the Spring.

Thus the magnitude of Mondays clash at the City of Manchester stadium is so large in proportions such that it has ultimately become winner takes all. Man United win? Then it doesn’t look like they’ll let a 6 point lead slip this late on. A City win would allow them to regain top spot on a superior goal difference, a spot that they surely can’t lose.

Fergie can’t play an understrength team at City, he’ll know that the midfield that was deployed against Wigan previously will be overrun. He’ll also be aware of his sides defensive collapse against Everton, and how Rafael’s performance may leave the Citizens rubbing their hands. Although the upcoming fixtures post City include a seemingly routine trip to Sunderland and as host to Swansea, three points have to be earned in both of those games.

But Mancini needs to ensure whoever starts up top has to get them goals. Whether he selects Tevez or Aguero, or a combination of both, they need to know not to get overawed by the occasion – particularly Carlos Tevez. City travel to Newcastle and then host QPR – two sides who also require wins for their own agendas.

This will be tight, no doubt. Anything short of a victory for City may mean that it’s too late to catch their local rivals. However, if Man United fail to pick up anything, the initiative will be handed to City. A draw? Well, that just makes predictions that much harder.

I’m going to stick with my previous assumption in that Manchester United may just edge the title, by playing out a draw at the Etihad – but it wont be as easy as it first seemed. City should have had the league wrapped up by now, but then so should have United.

Who said the league was getting boring? Messrs Mancini and Fergie, its in your hands now.

Comments welcome.

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Déjà Vu

11 Apr

It was spring 96′ when the infamous words ‘I would love it if we beat them’ left Kevin Keegan’s determined yet nerve-racked mouth. That year Newcastle had amassed a 12-point lead of Manchester United, with the league championship seemingly headed to St James’ Park. But it didn’t – and it will always remain a mystery how ‘the entertainers’ had fell by the wayside watching a resilient Alex Ferguson squad grind out result after result. It truly was heartbreak in black and white.

Roberto Mancini - Losing grip of his side.

Fast forward the best part of 15 years, and the scene is the Etihad Stadium. Swap the black and white stripes with sky blue and the story is almost the same. Manchester City started the season like a house on fire, disposing teams with ultimate ease and a footballing swagger that had led some to say the title race was over in October. A 7-point lead in the early season with City showing no signs of letting up led many to believe this was their season.

But when had a disadvantage ever ruled United out of a title race?

It’s now mid way through April, with City almost imploding – with rumours of dressing room bust-ups, being outplayed by seemingly inferior opposition, and ultimately not getting the results. United by contrast, are doing what they do best. Winning (despite the odd blip).

A lot is similar to the story of 96′. But one similarity is in the personnel at the clubs’ disposal. Back then; we had a centre forward by the name of Faustino Asprilla. A mercurial Columbian who seemingly had the world at his feet, signed for £7million. But his inclusion disrupted a usual fluency of play, and a side that were previously winning games in comfort, had to now accommodate a player that just didn’t fit. Square pegs round holes.

Asprilla was then sold to Parma and his career diminished into nothingness, being one of those players that ‘could have been’. Since, he has been involved in shootings in his own country, and been affiliated with Columbian pornography. Yes, pornography.

'Tino' Asprilla - Enigma.

Skip back to the present, and we have another attention-whore, in the shape of Mario Balotelli. Last week, Roberto Mancini was quoted in saying that if Balotelli could curb his behaviour; he could be one of the best players on the globe. ‘If’ – a measly word with two letters withholds so much power in that sentence, and opinion is (and backed by this weekends events), he is a liability to Manchester City’s failings this season. A catalogue of errors (including throwing darts at a youth player, and setting his house on fire via indoor fireworks) have led to Mancini saying he will probably sell him in the summer, this coming after his idiotic actions in the weekends match at Arsenal. Although last nights results have slightly altered the final picture, albeit not by much, the underlying issue is still the same. City had it in the bag. And blew it.

The truth is Alex Ferguson would have never taken the risk with him in the first place – the first sign of mis-behaviour he would have been sold. That might be why City aren’t going to win the league. They will one day, but the similarities to the class of 96′ are almost seamless. Faltering players, with the success getting to their head in the pressure-cooker scenario that is the Premier League title race. Keegan couldn’t handle it, and Mancini is showing signs of following suit.

So close, yet so far. Déjà vu anyone?

Comments welcome.


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