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City season review and gallery

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19 May 2010 11:05:06

| Submit Comments| Printable Version1/1Play SlideshowClose MapHERO: Tevez proved the signing of the seasonThe morning after the night before, it appeared that City's hopes and dreams were in a ruin. City fans, players and staff were picking out shreds of consolation from the rubble and dust, while Spurs celebrated their new-found status. But closer inspection revealed that what was left after Peter Crouch's header had denied City a top-four finish was not wreckage but the intact foundations of a new construction. And the Blues were not sifting through the remains - they were making sure that the foundations of what City want to be were still intact. The City dressing room that night was a desolate place to be. But chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak walked in, not to berate or belittle but to thank the players for their efforts in a thrilling season and to reassure them that the "project" was still on course. Vincent Kompany emerged from that meeting still haunted by the disappointment of losing a must-win game but with his instincts intact, and stated the case eloquently. The Belgian is as bright and thoughtful off the field as he is on it, and he was brimming with positives, even in the depths of despair. He pointed out that City were on course to finish fifth, and had been in contention for fourth, when a top-six finish had been the target at the start of the season. He spoke of the traumas and dramas off the field which had dogged the season, disrupting the team, affecting the concentration and making a mess of any attempts to build up a momentum. City have always tended to be as much soap opera as football club but at times last season they appeared to have picked up scripts from Eastenders, Emmerdale and even a scene or two from Rambo. Bullets Carlos Tevez dashed off to Argentina at a crucial phase of the season, needing to be at the bedside of his premature daughter. Emmanuel Adebayor crouched on a bus in the African bush, cradling a dying man in his arms as bullets flew around. Wayne Bridge was the innocent party in a scandalous football love triangle with his former girlfriend and England captain John Terry. And Brazilian superstar Robinho sulked and pouted, and finally slipped off back to Brazil after an utter failure to live up to his billing and price tag. Those events bit deeper than Blues fans could imagine but amid the gloom of defeat, Kompany also shone a torch on the future. If the current City squad was to begin next season, with no additions, he felt they would be fighting for a top-four finish. But the City squad which begins next season is unlikely to be the same City squad which ended this campaign. It is already looking like two new defenders will be in place, one of them Jerome Boateng, the other possibly Benfica's David Luiz. At least one midfielder is on the shopping list, with Real Madrid's Fernando Gago still on the radar after a bid for him in the January transfer window did not come off. And the Blues also have at least one superstar signing in mind with Fernando Torres the name on everybody's lips. Given those kind of reinforcements, and given a relatively trouble-free season, the Blues stand more than a chance of reaching the Champions League next time. But what Roberto Mancini wants, above all, is the chance to drill his players in pre-season. The Italian undoubtedly added a stricter discipline on the field, greater tactical nous and some tight organisation - City have won every game in his reign in which they have been in front. That was his predecessor Mark Hughes' fatal failing. He had the side playing good football at times, but they persistently dropped silly points from positions of strength. Mancini was thrown into the hurly-burly of a Premier League season, something for which a lifetime spent in Serie A cannot prepare you. No time to take stock, no time to prepare and re-organise, barely time to think, as the games came thick and fast. No wonder the word "pre-season" was tripping off Mancini's lips at regular intervals when he was quizzed after the West Ham game had brought the season to a close. The weaknesses were there for all to see throughout the season. Quality No-one truly claimed the right-back position until Pablo Zabaleta ended the season strongly, while question marks remain over the defensive quality of Wayne Bridge at left-back, and Joleon Lescott's absence weakened the centre of defence. Midfield was solid and compact enough, combative and tight, but lacking sparkle and thrust, as Stevie Ireland had a frustrating season. Carlos Tevez was a revelation up front, scoring 29 goals and, at times, single-handedly hauling the Blues out of the mire. But Emmanuel Adebayor, after a spectacular start, ran into troubles which beset his season and almost cost him his life. Rivals scoffed and laughed at what appeared to be another frustrating City near-miss, but they have also missed the point. Fifth place is base camp, not the end of the road.RelatedPicturesView Gallery (8)| Submit Comments| Printable VersionAdd A CommentEnter your comments:Type your comment here...NewsletterGet the latest news straight to your inbox.


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