Roberto Mancini will wake up today and the overwhelming relief he must have felt yesterday will have passed.
In it’s place should be a wry smile at what was possibly the key moment in Manchester City’s season so far, the moment when they believed the title would be returning to the Etihad Stadium.
Their last-gasp win over Tottenham Hotspur early Sunday afternoon meant they extended their lead at the top to six points and put pressure on Manchester United ahead of their game with Arsenal later in the day.
The significance of this win cannot be lost on Mancini, Sir Alex Ferguson or Harry Redknapp, as it was plain to see in the post match comments.
Redknapp was preoccupied (possibly quite rightly) with the debate as to whether Mario Balotelli should have been on the pitch to be fouled for and then dispatch the game-winning penalty.
Ferguson was relieved to have managed to eventually scrape a win at Emirates Stadium after Arsene Wenger’s questionable substitution handed the Old Trafford side the momentum back.
The nature of City’s victory was essential, much in the same way that their loss in the FA Cup third round derby with United was for their team spirit.
The drive and desire they showed to go two goals ahead was undone by defensive hesitancy and a piece of unaccountable brilliance from Gareth Bale.
The moment that clinched victory was handed to them via an unusually inelegant and rash piece of defending by Ledley King.
However, the delivery of their luck – along with three points – will do nothing to dampen the euphoria that must surely have come with a realisation they were likely to remain at the summit of the league for some time now.
Another factor to consider would be the fact that this was achieved without their captain Vincent Kompany, missing due to suspension after his debatable red card in that FA Cup tie.
To win such a tie against a team that were (past tense applied post game) serious rivals for the title, without their best and most influential defender, a true leader of their side.
This was the last Premier League game Kompany will be required to miss through the suspension, although he will absent for the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Add to the Belgian’s absence, the fact that Yaya Toure is away at Africa Cup of Nations duty and you have a victory that was achieved with two of the team’s three best players.
Despite the fumbled way in which they went about it, the win was testament to the will power they now possess and it is something prospective champions cannot do without.
It would be harsh not to point out that Tottenham deserved something out of the game and could possibly have won it at the death had Jermain Defoe been an inch taller.
The manner of victory will not bother Mancini and he will dispel any attempt to over estimate the importance of the win, but in circles of City fans he will fail in this endeavour.
Citizens will rejoicing at the mettle of a side that for so long lacked any bottle and have come to understate the club’s recent achievements through fear of that spectre of defeat from the jaws of victory, which has dogged them for so long.
One thing, above all, stood out as those in sky blue shirt saluted the watching crowd – it was that this seemed a victory in the mould of a team not so far away, and that scenes of jubilation were familiar, but of victors wearing red.
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