Is Man City over-reliance on David Silva key to flailing title bid?

Until the first weekend in March, David Silva had played some part in all of Manchester City’s Premier League matches and for just three of those he played less than 45 minutes. A fortnight ago, as his side laboured to a Britannia Stadium draw the pocket-sized playmaker came-off on the hour mark after lacking his often match-defining grace; but is Roberto Mancini’s over-reliance on his little genius partly to blame for their flailing title bid?

It is testament to his pre-Christmas form that the Spaniard still tops the assists chart in April, as since the turn of the year he has prompted just five of City’s league goals, and hasn’t scored since a week before Christmas. With the club’s Champions League campaign ending at the start of December there must be a thought that as he entered the second half of their domestic campaign, Mancini could have used his mercurial asset more sparingly. With such an expensive squad at his disposal, there were times when the Italian could have rested, or at least retracted Silva earlier against the so-called lesser teams when games were already won. Ironically, it was most recently against Arsenal – the last team Silva scored against in the league, the winner in a 1-0 victory – when City desperately needed his craft to re-ignite their title charge. With Yaya Toure an early departure at the Emirates, City were left totally bereft of any drive and invention.

Perhaps Mancini was afraid of upsetting the balance of team that so effortlessly purred from game-to-game in the first half of the season, but Sir Alex Ferguson will testify to the importance of squad rotation when attempting to secure this country’s biggest domestic club honour. There is also another consideration regarding the genuine depth of City’s squad and the level of trust Mancini has in his supporting cast. Their squad, on paper at least, appears the strongest in this country – by some distance – however, with Carlos Tevez only just returning, perhaps they lack another midfield, or an ‘in-the-hole’ game-changer. With James Milner, Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong more industrious than inspirational – and Samir Nasri generally underwhelming since his move – the former Valencia midfielder’s indispensability only heightens.

With other issues and players generally dominating the Ethiad headlines, namely Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez, the explanation for a crumbling title bid seems blatant, but Silva’s gradual decline should be considered a major jinx in the narrative. David Pizarro was surely loaned in January to help ease the pressure on the latter but the Chilean has quite mystifyingly been underused.

So with the league title now almost certainly destined for Manchester United’s retention, Mancini must now begin the post-mortem into where it all went wrong. Topping his agenda should be locating a solution that can help alleviate the massive burden placed on such a diminutive figure, as the Italian’s over-indulgence in Silva may have cost them their inaugural Premier League crown.

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