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City intensity could bring title
Published : 27 Sep 2010 13:08:59Rss feed
| Submit Comments| Comments (34)| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapMAN HANDLED: Gareth Barry gets to grips with Ashley Cole as young Dedryck Boyata looks onHow many times this season have we heard the theory? Rival managers have said it. Opponents have said it and opposing fans have said it. Sheikh Mansour?s billions, they?ve claimed, will buy a bus load of marquee players for Manchester City but no amount of money will ever buy team spirit. Well, here?s a reality check for all those critics. You can take back that theory and shove it where the sun never shines. Because what we witnessed against Chelsea at Eastlands on Saturday was a team of players in sky blue shirts who would run through a brick wall to help each other out. Chelsea, officially, are the tallest and heaviest team in the Premier League. In other words, the boys from Stamford Bridge are the most powerful unit in the top flight. Not at Eastlands on Saturday they weren?t. Chelsea were reduced to pygmies as they were out-muscled, bounced from one end of the pitch to the other and ? let?s admit it ? bullied out of their stride by a City team with fire in its blood and vengeance in its eyes. And I?m not just talking here about Terminator Nigel de Jong or the frightening assassin Vincent Kompany. Call up a mental picture of little David Silva. I?ve seen more fat on a chip. He looks like a good gust of wind would blow him off his feet. But when you see a waif like Silva clattering into a 6ft 3in 14-stone defender and coming away with the ball you know that something special is starting to take place at the football club in east Manchester. What manager Roberto Mancini is building over at Eastlands is a team in every sense of the word. And a team with players who will fight for each other to the final whistle and run until they drop and can move mountains. Or, to put it another way, can win Premier titles. Mancini knew exactly what was coming on Saturday. He knew that, given the chance, Chelsea love nothing more than bullying the opposition into submission. So he elected to fight fire with fire. The City boss knows what happens to bullies if you stand up to them. They crumble into dust and run home crying to their mothers. And that's exactly what happened on Saturday as Chelsea quickly began to realise that whatever they dished out they were going to get back - with a bit more added on. Drogba impact So we watched Didier Drogba, the big, tough Chelsea hitman, reduced to a whimpering, petulant non-entity because of the total dominance exerted over him by the majestic Kompany. We watched Michael Essien, nicknamed 'The Bison' because of his strength, wilting away to nothing against the sheer power and aggression of the fearsome De Jong. We watched Florent Malouda, so influential against the lesser teams Chelsea have faced this season, become totally anonymous as he tried and failed to find a way past Dedryck Boyata, a 19-year-old former trainee who was playing out of position at right-back. Chelsea were stifled in midfield and strangled in attack. Apart from one simple save goalkeeper Joe Hart could safely have watched the match from one of those heated seats in the posh boxes at Eastlands. That was the measure of City's dominance against the so-called 'new invincible'. Twenty-four hours before Saturday?s match manager Mancini publicly stated his belief that Chelsea would ?easily? land the Premier League title again this season. I never knew until then that Bobby Manc indulged in mind games. He must have been hoping that such an outrageous comment would wind up his players and maybe lower Chelsea's guard. Mancini was half right. His players were wound up on Saturday but Chelsea didn't lower their guard. That was dismantled piece by piece in a ferociously determined City performance which made a mockery of their manager's tongue-in-cheek prediction about the London club running away with the title. The manner of City?s win on Saturday may not have pleased the purists. But it was simply a case of ?horses for courses?. Give Chelsea the time and the space and they will rip you to shreds. City gave them neither and provided the first tangible evidence of the season that the Londoners are not quite as good as they are cracked up to be. So what does Saturday's deserved victory prove to Mancini and his men? For a start, it proved that if they can beat Chelsea they can beat any team in the Premier League. It proved that at times ?playing ugly? to secure all three points is perfectly justified. It proved that for City the sky is now the limit. The so-called project which began under Mark Hughes is now nearing completion. It proved that not only the Champions League but the Premier League title itself is now within touching distance. And if City achieve either of those goals this season by bullying the opposition into submission this is one Blue Mooner who won't give a fig about how they did it. Will City maintain their intensity? Have your say.