FA Cup – Runners-up
League Cup – Third Round
Roberto Mancini and his Manchester City team started this Premier League campaign with genuine aspirations of defending their league title. However, in what was to prove to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year at Manchester United, the Scot bowed out by retrieving the trophy from the noisy neighbours.
In the end, though, Mancini fell victim to his own success as the axe fell at the end of the season, with the club’s owners terminating his contract after he was unable to emulate the success of the previous season, to the ultimate dismay of the fans.
On the face of it, most teams would be ecstatic with a season’s work that concluded with a FA Cup final and a league runners-up medal, especially with the added bonus of a guaranteed Champions League place.
Certainly the fans were happy with their team’s season performance but in hindsight, the league title was lost the day that Robin van Persie signed on the dotted line for their main rivals.
This point was no more evident when the marauding Dutchman converted his free-kick from 30 yards out in his first Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium late last year to win it for his new employers.
The excruciating look on Pablo Zabaleta’s face as he leaned on the post seconds after the ball hit the net was to be the look of their Premier League season.
But it is difficult to pin the overall failure of City’s title defence this year on that one incident as they suffered from a severe case of travel sickness all season, winning less than half of their games away from Eastlands this season. At home the Sky Blues were a different animal as they found success in 14 of their 19 home games this season.
One big reason that the City campaign stumbled was the hammer blow of a lengthy lay off for talismanic captain Vincent Kompany, the giant Belgian damaging a hamstring in his side’s FA Cup visit to Stoke.
After seeing Kompany limp off in the Potteries, Mancini was forced to reshuffle his defence with Matija Nastasic playing a more prominent role in the side for the next few months and, while he is an extremely accomplished defender and looked good at the back, he lacks the kind of dominance and power that only players of the ilk of Kompany can give.
All in all, if Spurs had the season Man City have had Andre Villas Boas would have been lauded through the streets of North London as a hero, but it’s all about context.
When you have a team with the power, financially and physically, of Man City you are expected to be successful year on year and Mancini found out the hard way. But on the flip side, must the Man City board start to ask themselves, what is success?
Manager – Roberto Mancini: Mancini will maybe feel a little hard done to. It’s hard to believe that after the monumental success of the previous season that come the same time next year he would be walking away from the club. The phrase “tough act to follow” will be heard around the club many times in the coming weeks and months.
Player of the season – James Milner: In a season where few at the club covered themselves in glory it was a fine year for Milner. The England international went about his work quietly, but kept his side ticking throughout the season as the engine room of the team.
Turning Point- Kompany’s injury: The big Belgian’s injury woes this season have kept him on the treatment table rather than the grass for a large period. Clubs can recover and compete without some key players, but when your inspirational captain is ripped out of your defence, results will suffer and that is what effected City’s season. It may even be a problem their arch rivals can slightly sympathise with – slightly.
Any other business: With the departure of the Ferguson from Old Trafford, you can bet that the City money men will be wheeling out the war chest this summer, after coming under some fire in the last transfer window for not bringing in the marquee signings. So prepare for some big moves as City look to regain their crown.
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