As Manuel Pellegrini flapped his arms in exasperation, with his Manchester City side on the verge of surrendering their Premier League title aspirations last Wednesday evening, City's shortcomings were exposed.
Their over-reliance on the powerful Yaya Toure and the elegant creativity of David Silva, so often the architect, was efficiently exploited by Gus Poyet's relegation-threatened Sunderland team. Javi Garcia was overrun in midfield and Fernandinho laboured in Toure's absence.
It was only the fourth time in all competitions that the Etihad faithful were made to groan, with Bayern Munich (Champions League), Barcelona (Champions League) and Chelsea (Premier League) prompting the other three shows of derision.
Yet, the misconception that City could emerge triumphant in the Capital One Cup, FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League to seal an unprecedented quadruple had been permitted to live for so long. To thrive on the European stage, barring any hugely damaging involvement from UEFA's Financial Fair Play rule, Pellegrini must strengthen particular areas of his squad - the man they call 'The Engineer, a qualified civil engineer in Chile, must fix his side's most prominent problems.
Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, who City came close to acquiring in January, along with club colleague Fernando, would be a substantial upgrade on the perilous Martin Demichelis, so often the perpetrator of calamitous defensive errors. Fernando, a defensive midfielder, would provide Pellegrini with another adept option were Toure or Fernandinho to succumb to injury.
Despite all, City's defensive issues were masked for months by their potent goal-scoring prowess, reaching the century mark in January. As their goal count gradually reduced, City's shortcomings became much more prominent, obvious and detrimental, given that they had lost their propensity to outscore opponents.
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