When you cast your mind back to the closing minutes of last season-that all important moment when Aguero’s goal went in and Man City won the league, you could be forgiven for expecting that they were going to play some exciting football this year but instead it has been slightly harder for them to live up to the standard they produced the year before and they have struggled to maintain their form.
It is always hard for reigning champions to win back to back titles and their rivals Manchester United are the only club that hold that achievement. The pressure is immense and Mancini does not have the time behind him at City to have the confidence to reach those levels in the amount of time he has had at the club.
The team he has built have done wonders in the short time they have been together but to be a title winning team every year you need players that play every game together so they can learn each other’s every move around that pitch and Mancini has had to rotate and make changes to the team due to form, injury and transfers. Their strike force has been hit the most as Aguero got injured early on in the season, Balotelli left and Mancini had to rely on out of favour Dzeko to fill his boots and he is their top striker on 12 goals so far so he done a good job but it isn’t good enough for a top 2 side to not have a regular goalscorer. For a team who are second in the league they don’t have a player in the top ten goalscorers so far this season.
The pressure has got to Mancini this season and he has reacted publicly to decisions, had rows with team players including physical fights, he has argued with journalists, officials and other members of the media and he has struggled maintain the public composure he had last season. This kind of mentality is what can lead to a weakness within a team especially football where there are 11 players that work so much better when they are all getting on with each other and the management.
He is no stranger to tempestuous relationships with certain members of the squad Mancini was once again embroiled in a very public row with Mario Balotelli this year which resulted in the player being sold to AC Milan in the January transfer window. His departure might not have left much of a void in terms of goals but his contribution to the team is sorely missed and they need to replace him in the summer. Nasri has also been on the receiving end of Mancini’s fiery nature as he said in an interview that he would like to give Nasri a little punch.
Their disastrous Champions’ League campaign is partly to blame for a their loss of confidence this season, they went the whole group stage without winning a game and it has been the worst performance from an English side ever. This would affect even the strongest of clubs but I think lack of confidence is what has hit the team hardest as they don’t seem to have quite recovered from that. Mancini realises what a huge effect this had on the team but feel they have perspective now after seeing the teams that remain in the competition and he believes they would have struggled in the further stages.
“I think the four best teams are in the semi-finals. Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund were better than us. We can’t do anything about it now. I think the other English teams would have struggled in the group, sure. These two teams are very strong.”
Despite being second in the league City have found it hard to maintain their form completely and have lost of a bit of the exciting flair that kept them competing with United right up until the very end in May. They have had trouble closing the gap between their rivals this year and there is almost an air of acceptance that second place is the best they can do. Man City have had a season of learning this year, they have learned that they have to work exceptionally hard to be consistent with their results and they have also learned that you can’t just walk into European football and just play, you need to have more confidence in the ability to change the tactics. The last few games they have played there is a definite sign of improvement and they have done really well in closing their games.
They are likely to finish second in the league and have an FA Cup final to play and if they win that they will still be finishing on a high considering everything. Mancini has done a pretty good job this year but he needs to improve the team’s confidence and ability to play in Europe before they really can start competing with their rivals.
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