Club Focus – Manchester City – Two defeats in a row not a cause for overreaction

Football is an impatient game. Fans of today are an expectant bunch. Like those teenagers you see on My Super Sweet Sixteen – come on, we’ve all seen it before – we want it all and we want it now. Slowly building a team which will eventually, inevitably, challenge in the future is simply not good enough. Failure is unthinkable. Each draw is snatched from the jaws of victory. With every defeat come murmurs of discontent. Two defeats in a row and it is a mini-crisis.

Somehow, unbelievably, this is what certain sections of the media claim City are wallowing in at the moment. Never mind that they, with West Brom falling to defeat at Blackpool, are for the moment a top-four club. Ignore for a moment the scintillating form of Carlos Tevez and the gradual easing into the starting line-up of James Milner and David Silva, both of whom are sure to torment opposition defences throughout the season. Neglect the fact that over two short years the entire foundations of Manchester City have been moved from underneath the club’s feet for the club to be rebuilt with Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s billions and that the future of the club has never looked so prosperous. Two defeats is all it takes for Roberto Mancini’s job to be put in doubt, and for the off-field actions of the players to be scrutinised in barrel-scraping detail.

Arguments on the pitch are not a sure-fire sign of simmering resentment coursing through the dressing room. Maybe Vincent Kompany and Emanuel Adebayor’s disagreement was borne out of both players’ desire to win and their frustration at the events at Molineux. Neither does the fact that four City players – Joe Hart, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and Shay Given – were photographed at a student house party mean that there is an endemic drinking problem at the club. Gareth Barry felt compelled to apologise: “I regret that, it was naive of me. It shouldn’t have happened.” With that surely we should all move on. Sure, in its context their behaviour was not advisable, but need it really be used as evidence of the players’ ‘drinking culture’?

Most depressingly, the rumours regarding Roberto Mancini’s future at Eastlands have begun to circulate. The question levelled at him seems to be: how much progress is the club making? Well, enough considering City are fourth in the table – a position they would gladly accept come season’s end. Why is it that in the self pity and knee-jerk search for immediate answers which follows consecutive defeats that all that has been good about the season so far is immediately, conveniently, forgotten? City are going into this weekend’s Manchester derby having beaten the league leaders (deservedly so, as well). Whilst there are concerns about the overreliance on moments of genius from individual players in attack to win games, there have been other cohesive performance; the 3-0 demolition of Liverpool a prime example.

A win this weekend would take City level on points with Manchester United. With this, the plaudits for the manager would return and City’s name would be mentioned in the same breath as the word ‘champions’. Two defeats in a row merely indicate problems which can be resolved. It does not point to a crisis. Manchester City still go into this weekend in confident mood.

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