If you ask Roberto Mancini where the title was lost this season, the answer will likely come back as simply goals.
On paper this looks obvious – City have scored 61 so far this term compared to 93 by the end of last season.
However, if we delve deeper into City’s shortcomings this year then there’s certainly more to it than meets the eye. Let’s have a look.
City’s summer transfer activity really undermined their chances of retaining their Premier League title. First of all there’s the elephant in the room – Robin van Persie. Roberto Mancini made no secret of his desire to bring the lethal Dutchman to the Etihad, but he instead opted to join United. 24 league goals for the Red Devils later and they are champions. Van Persie looks set for the Golden boot award, especially as he added one more to his tally to make 25 with his goal against Arsenal this past weekend.
However for City, missing out on players such as Javi Martinez, Daniel Agger, Eden Hazard and Daniele De Rossi was a real blow to Mancini’s aspirations. If they had all joined the Citizens it could well have been a different story this year.
Going hand in hand with the missed transfers mentioned above is the players City brought in instead. Aside from Matija Nastasic, who has enjoyed a strong campaign, the likes of Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Javi Garcia and Maicon have simply not made the impact that could have been expected of them.
They have all suffered from issues like a lack of chances and injuries, but none have shown an ability to fit in at the highest level. Scott Sinclair is rumoured to be chasing a move away, while Javi Garcia will certainly want assurances over his role at the club.
Individual errors can be overplayed, but the fact remains that this season City have suffered from far more individual mistakes than they did last term, which has cost them valuable points. One of the biggest culprits has been Joe Hart, who has made numerous errors this year.
Compared to last season where he was rock solid, Hart’s tendency to let tame shots slip through his gloves has led to defensive doubt. Perhaps the England number one should concentrate more on his game next season and less on his itchy scalp.
City have suffered from missing key players for long periods this year, without a doubt. The three that have really had an impact have been captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
Each player was pivotal in the Citizens’ incredible run to the title last campaign, but through injury and international duty have been unavailable for many games this term. With replacements coming through the likes of Gareth Barry and the inconsistent Edin Dzeko, City fans could be forgiven for wondering what might have been had these three been available for every game.
Several games this season have seen City adopt an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, operating with wing-backs. Now, while in theory this offers more width and pace on the counter attack, the players at City’s disposal just never looked comfortable with the formation.
Gael Clichy at centre back and Kolarov at wing back was never a formula that looked likely to work, which was shown through the evident confusion whenever the formation was utilised.
Finally, City genuinely seem to lose some of the desire that drove their impressive run to last year’s title. Last season’s passion could be symbolised by two goals and the goalscorers’ reactions – Vincent Kompany vs Manchester United (click here) and Sergio Aguero vs QPR (click here). At any stage have City shown even a glimpse of the same passion, the same desire, the same natural urge to win?
Of course, there are a multitude of issues that have led to City’s failure to retain their title. Some issues have been at their own hands including those shown above, while of course Manchester United have shown incredible form and consistency to win back their crown. However, there are a lot lessons Roberto Mancini and his squad must learn for next season if they are to have any chance of regaining their title.
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