Since Roberto Mancini was handed the manager’s job for City, the club prospered and became a force to reckon with. His impact was almost immediate. The sudden rise of their cross city rivals was viewed by Old Trafford fans with increasing alarm and ultimately City became a thorn in their flesh when they lost out on the Premier League title last season by the skin of their teeth.
Alex Ferguson, keeping the near miss of last year in mind had decided that for this season, Man.United have to win the title, and win it cleanly. While United have soared up and away in their bid for the title, City have flattered to deceive. The Old Trafford team is largely a group of home-grown young and senior football players and Sir Alex deserves full credit for nurturing talent within the United Kingdom. The remaining foreign players in the team are actually the supporting cast but the difference is that due to their expensive buying they would have to prove themselves whenever given the chance, just like how Nani did in the recent Reading match, and how Hernandez will have to do in every match he comes off the bench.
In contrast, with the Etihad money infused into the City team, Mancini has a team in which nearly everyone is the main star. Having proved their worth by winning the FA Cup and the League title, City has slackened off and for no particular reason. Their manager also has not been able to re-create his magic in the kind of football his team played last season. Mancini is a much younger manager than Ferguson and finds that keeping up with the Scot’s team is indeed a difficult task and the difficulty is seemingly increasing every season by degrees. Clearly the Italian’s English job is getting tougher by the day.
If one looks at City’s strikers, Tevez, Dzeko,Aguero combined are more than equal to Rooney, Welbeck and VanPersie. City’s midfielders Nasri, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Milner match up to the standards of Carrick, Fletcher, Kagawa and Ashley Young. Both teams have solid defenders with Kolarov, Zabaleta, Lescott and Maicon as good, if not better than Vidic, Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Evra. Joe Hart could probably be rated above De Gea by the English football crowd. Yet City is now faced with the prospect of losing their title that was albeit won dramatically.
If Mancini does lose the title, and even if he wins any other silverware, the players could possibly be training under another manager next season. The Arab owners of Manchester City might not be so forgiving. Sir Alex on the other hand, even if he won’t “continue till 90” as Mourinho joked recently, might want to leave on the highest note possible.