By Kaustav Bera
It was delight for Manchester City just about an year back, when their last day heroics made them snatch the Premier League crown from bitter cross town rivals, Manchester United, amidst widespread euphoria. While critics might sneer at their so called 'purchase' of the trophy with Arab cash, the reality was that in a little over three years the Citizens had achieved their goal of winning their first Premier League.
However it has all gone sour the next season, when it came to soak up pressure and defend their hard earned trophy as the Blue side of Manchester has capitulated in spectacular fashion in their title defense and now trail runaway leaders United by a massive 15 points with only 9 games remaining.
Not only that, their hopes of making it big in Europe too has failed to take off even from the runaway as they crashed and burned in the group stages itself. Although they were certainly not helped by being placed in the so called 'Group of Death', the superstars present should have given a better account rather than meekly surrendering.
Although Roberto Mancini and his men are still alive in the FA Cup, it's a poor reward for all the millions invested and is no substitute at all for either the Premier League or a good outing in Europe, City having failed to do neither.
Goal.com takes a broad look at their dismal run of form, this season...
LACK OF WORLD CLASS SUMMER TRANSFERS
Manchester City were certainly not quiet in the summer transfer window by any stretch of imagination as they had spent close to £55 million. While their bitter rivals managed to sign Premier League Player of the Year 2011-12 season Robin van Persie, City were left to feed off scraps as their most expensive transfer was Benfica's Javi Garcia for a reported £17 million, who unlike United's new boy has hardly managed to hit the ground running.
|City's new signings either warm the bench or the injury list|
While RVP has lit up the Red half of Manchester with his 19 goals almost single-handedly guaranteeing that the Red Devils do not lose on the league title, Manchester City has lacked the presence of a game changer. Even though Garcia has been half decent in the middle of the field, while Matija Nastasic has added some steel in defense for his tender age, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell have been luxury buys. While Sinclair rots on the bench, devoid of opportunity, Rodwell spends more time injured than on the pitch.
OVERDEPENDENCE ON YAYA TOURE AND KOMPANY
Time and again, the Ivorian has saved Manchester City when they were down in the dumps. In an otherwise sordid season, he has been the only shining light to spur his team on. The bustling energy and power is enthused through out the whole team, whenever he plays. Not only that, he has the knack of coming up with those important goals when his team needs the most. As was in the encounter against Everton, when Toure was out, City appeared sluggish and lacked the passion.
|More individualistic than a complete team
Another notable absentee that City have paid for is captain and rock at the back, Vincent Kompany. The Belgian was one of the primary reasons for City's winning campaign last time around as he kept the team organized and solid at the back. This time around, with injuries and niggles keeping him often out, The Royal Blues have leaked goals with neither Kolo Toure or Joleon Lescott being able to deputize for him besides the consistent Nastasic. The pairing of Kompany and Nastasic has indeed looked solid when they played but that has been few and far in between.
MANCINI'S LACK OF MAN MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Even before joining Manchester City Mancini did manage to win a hat-trick of Scudetti, but it was in the background of the Calciopoli in Italy with the other contenders relatively weakened. That he has managed to never make a mark in Europe also counts against him.
|Mancini has been a forlorn figure for his sometimes weird decision making
At City however, maybe he did not call the shots at transfers having missed the likes of Eden Hazard, Javi Martinez, Daniele de Rossi and the aformentioned RVP, but he needs to be directly responsible for some curious dealings. While Nastasic has indeed slotted in well, City have failed to find a leader in midfield with Javi Garcia coming nowhere close to Nigel Di Jong.
Forget new players, Mancini's tactics have often been questioned. His propensity to play three at the back came back to haunt him again at Goodison Park, when City looked listless and disjointed even though they had an extra man going forward.
LOSING BALOTELLI AND FAILING TO REPLACE HIM
One of Manchester City's main achievements last season was that beside new man Sergio Aguero's prowess in front of goal, Mancini had an awesome array of strikers to call upon, with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko all crossing into double figures.
However, this season has been a far cry from that. Especially with the likes of Tevez and Aguero misfiring and having failed to cross the 10 goal barrier, super sub Dzeko is the highest scorer for the Citizens in the league. Weirdly enough, he fails to hold a first team place in the star studded line-up.
|Failing to manage Balotelli is costing City big
Mancini's relationship with Super Mario was always a hit and miss, and it seemed that City had done a good deal when they sold controversy's favourite love child to AC Milan. However, Balotelli's scintillating form with the Rossoneri has indeed cast questions on Mancini again. The 22 year old had only managed to score once out of 14 appearances this season, but already has 7 goals in just 6 matches for Milan. This clearly proves, when happy, the young Italian can be the very best upfront which Mancini could never manage.
Not only that Mancini has also failed to plug the gaping hole left by Mario's departure as his other strikers seem to have forgotten their shooting boots. The lack of a big winter signing which could boost morale and put fear back into the hearts of the challengers, has really contributed to the lacklustre performances at Eastlands.
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