City fan’s ears are probably still ringing with delight following Sergio Aguero’s last minute winner against Queens Park Rangers in May. With one swing of his right boot the Argentinian not only reset the footballing balance in Manchester, but gave the Sky Blues their first league title in over 40 years and potentially began a new footballing dynasty.
Pre-season chatter surrounding the European championships, Olympic fever and Robin van Persie’s whereabouts calmed the hysteria over the incredible end to the 2011/2011 campaign, however, by the end of City’s 3-2 Charity Shield victory over Chelsea most of the world seemed to regard English football’s richest side as the overwhelming favorites for the Premier League crown.
But over the months of August and September, City seem to have shown their frailties to their challenging rivals, which might make this season’s league title race a little bit more open than anyone possibly thought. In his club’s opening game Roberto Mancini had to watch Aguero hobble off injured with what seemed to be a bad knee injury that subsequently only kept him out for a few weeks, then endured a missed penalty before witnessing his side take the lead through a goal from the rather svelte looking Carlos Tevez.
However City then conspired to miss a host of guilt-edged chances and then looked on in horror as Southampton took a shocking 2-1 lead. Defending reminiscent of a Keystone Cops short film from the visitors soon salvaged the three points for the newly crowned champions, but surely this would only be a mere a blip?
Apparently not. Against Liverpool they miraculously stole a point against Brendan Rodgers rampantly improving side, allowed Queens Park Rangers to believe they might be capable of stealing a point at the Etihad, drew with Stoke City away and then conceded a late equaliser at home to Arsenal too. The latter two fixtures were also separated by the abandonment of a 2-1 win lead with 5 minutes to go against Real Madrid.
Now all of this might seem to be exaggerating their woes slightly, of course they’re still unbeaten and against Stoke and Arsenal they did miss a handful of chances to claim all three points, but City should be better than this. They’re on the precipice of joining the European elite and can only do that by maintaining the rhythm they’ve set winning their first Premier League title not wallowing in it.
Add to that several signings who either look past it, Maicon, or superfluous, Jack Rodwell, plus Mancini’s bizarre decision to rotate his formation every other game and you might feel okay to label City as slightly arrogant. That’s not all fans have to worry about though, as their best player last season David Silva, looks to be struggling to inflict an impact onto games in the same way that he managed 12 months ago and their defence and central midfield look decidedly uneven.
As mentioned above, this could all merely be a blip, and the likes of Aguero, Tevez and the ingeniously phenomenal Yaya Toure will guide them through many of their problems, but is Mancini trying to be too clever too fast? Or is this the only way his City side can genuinely battle on two fronts?