Another weekend, another less than stellar result for current title holders Manchester City, a shock loss against faltering side Everton saw City fall even further behind Manchester United putting a rather large dent in their title hopes.
There is a common, but unpopular saying in the world of football that the worst thing to ever happen to the English football team was winning the World Cup, as it set up impossibly high expectations for future tournaments.
The same could be said for their previous run of results. An FA Cup win in the 2010/11 season and last season’s Premier League triumph has set City up as a modern day success story. But the champion’s dip in form has led to claims that the title race is all but over and that City, due to success in recent seasons, have become complacent.
City have replaced Chelsea as the big spenders in the Premier League, spending millions to secure a team of world class players. And, like Chelsea, the spending has translated to success on the pitch.
At the beginning of the 2011/12 season City romped to blinding often emphatic wins trouncing teams beating Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 and more shockingly thrashing Manchester United 6-1.
In the last few months, City suffered several setbacks and found themselves nine points behind United. Roberto Mancini stating that the title race was over. But thanks to Manchester United stumbling at the last hurdle and an amazing comeback against Queens Park Rangers on the final day City finally completed an unlikely comeback.
The inevitable hype increased over the summer many fans and pundits waiting for City to splash the cash as they had in the previous season, many expecting another raid on Arsenal for Robin Van Persie.
The tug of war for the Dutch star ended in the dying stages of the transfer window but much to the horror of City fans Van Persie was snapped up for a cool £24 million by Manchester United.
Suddenly City found themselves at the beginning of a new season with few new signings and several disgruntled fans who had expected Mancini to once more spend heavily before financial fair play sets in.
Despite an unsuccessful summer City remained hopeful that their relatively unchanged team would still bring their all and defend a title they’d fought so hard to win.
Their campaign started off reasonably well but luck has not been on Mancini’s side this season. Firstly the hot-headed manager was embroiled in yet another feud with one of his own players except this time it was not Carlos Tevez but his own recruit Mario Balotelli.
The Italian striker had been cautioned several times by the club for his behaviour on and off the pitch resulting with a sensational training ground punch up between Balotelli and Mancini. Unlike Tevez, Balotelli did not go back to City with his tail between his legs but departed to AC Milan in the January transfer window.
Another thorn in City's side this year has been a second abysmal performance in the Champions League, which saw City crash out of the competition with a mere one point.
Humiliating defeats to Real Madrid and Ajax left many wondering how a team of international stars perform so badly and appear so average in the wake of competition.
Although they were drawn in a very tough group the performance of City is no doubt one fans would like to forget. On a European level it is clear City have yet to take the training wheels off but domestically their form has been spiralling out of control.
A major problem for City is just how strong United look this season. United are a team transformed and they have had nothing if not consistent results.
Attention is now turning to the teams below City with Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal all clamouring for a Champions League spot. With Arsenal and Chelsea improving, City’s previously untouchable spot of second could slip away.
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