And now finally, we look to the club in sky blue whose exceptionally brilliant and extravagant football has taken the league by storm and cemented their reputation as a top club.
“Money alone never gets you success” was the quote repeatedly thrown at City. Their 3rd place finish last season certainly didn’t help that opinion with many people saying they’ll never be a title winning side by spending alone.
However the addition of the F.A. Cup to a trophy cabinet which had seen dust for 35 years did ease the pressure on Mancini, and seemed to be the signal for the Eastlanders to really come into their own the next season.
Which they have duly done.
Criticized heavily last season for their negative approach, looking on most occasion to just keep the clean sheet instead of go forth and finish teams off, City annihilated all who stood in their path in the opening weeks of the EPL. 36 goals scored in the opening 10 fixtures which included embarrassing first Tottenham 1-5 at the lane, then probably the biggest moment of the careers of everyone involved, a 1-6 demolition job of champions Manchester United at the unexpected of all places – the Old Trafford. It sent a clear message to the Red Devils and the rest of the world; Manchester city are here to stay for good.
Still a 100% record at home after 25 games played, the star-studded line up has really shone this season with some quite extravagant football. Regardless of whether one is a Blues fan or not, you cannot deny what City have managed to accomplish. Combining a similar style to what used to be the quick, decisive, entertaining passing of the Invincibles with the clinical finish of a typical title winning Manchester United side, City have played some of the best football across Europe and have won plaudits from managers and pundits alike.
And most of that is due to the free flowing nature of the players. Yaya toure, used as a holding midfielder back in Barcelona days, has been let go of his defensive shackles and was probably the best midfielder in 2011 in England with his iconic marauding runs from the center of the park, scaring the life out of many a defender. This direct style of play has combined exquisitely with the elegance of the Spanish playmaker David Silva and has seen city develop into one of the best all around sides in Europe right now.
The Spaniard has been completely unstoppable this time around and has given nightmares to pretty much every defense he has faced. Currently leading the assists chart with 12 to his name, 6 goals and just generally brilliant in his movement, the no.21 has really epitomized what attacking football is all about and it would be a major major shock if he wasn’t in the starting XI for Spain in the upcoming Euros.
They have though recently shown signs though of their weaknesses. Losing the Toure brothers to the African Cup of Nations was a major blow to Mancini and his men and it saw City drop points in the month of January which allowed 2nd placed Manchester United to close the gap on them. This over reliance on the Ivorian duo and general dressing room arguments, including the well documented Tevez issue (not going to get into that), was criticized heavily with many people saying the team still lacked a general spirit and togetherness that money just cannot buy.
So whats next for Manchester City? Absolutely brilliant at home so far (12 wins in 12 home games, with 37 goals scored and 6 conceded) and playing some generally good football away from home, the men in sky blue still have to face visits from Chelsea and Man Utd (being touted a potential title decider) and take a trip to London to face Arsenal. Having the Toure brothers back will be a major boost to Mancini and if they can find the kind of form they were in at the start of the season, that 2 point lead at the top of the table should see them crowned champions. Unless of course Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have something to say about it.
Its been an absolutely incredible season to watch so far and over the course of the next few games, it should become clear which team is finishing where. But then again, this is the Barclays Premier League, you never really know now do you!
(follow on twiiter @rafeyAM_MUFC)