…killing our season; some of the players are playing like they did just before Roberto Mancini was sacked.
There’s a worrying sense of ‘fizzling out’ brewing week on week on week…
It sounded like a great idea at the time; some even said it was a masterstroke by the Manchester City owners (and I believed then, as I do now, that it was a time also where a deal to sign Pep Guardiola was as good as ‘done ‘n’ dusted). Give Manuel Pellegrini a 1-year extension to his current deal and that’ll keep the wolves off his – and our – back for the majority of the season. It was also a nice little “thank you” pay-off for Manuel too.
And it worked…for about 4 months. Quickly hushed were the questions in pre-match press conferences about the changing of the guard in the summer of 2016 and I don’t think it was then a coincidence either that the team, after a mixed pre-season, BLASTED onto the Premier League scene with 5 wins from 5; scoring 11 and conceding 0.
Then came a mixed September of 3 wins and 3 defeats; an excellent October of 5 wins and a draw before a largely woeful 2-and-a-bit-month period (to date) of inconsistent results that looks like a Manchester City side from the 80s, 90s and early 00s:
W D L L W W L W W L W D W L.
It’s almost head-mashing to believe that we’re 3rd in the Premier League; just 3-points off the top and with the joint-best goal difference. It’s bewildering in many ways that we are still, for now, in the mix to be at Wembley next month in the League Cup final and that we qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League by finishing top of the group!
It feels like we recreating that famous James Bond scene; running across a river by jumping on the backs of snapping crocodiles and, somehow, getting to the other side safely. Unfortunately we’re still running…and I think there might be some bigger & faster, sharp-toothed reptiles up-ahead.
The weird thing for me - and something, which, back-ups my uneasy feeling that some of the players have stopped wanting to perform to their full ability for our current manager - is that we appeared to have the worst of our many, many injuries in the first half of this 5-month season so far; a period where the results were largely very good indeed.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment - aside from a key, never-seemingly-ending injury to Vincent Kompany we’ve had the bulk of our ailing players back and available in the last 6 to 8 weeks and IN that time we’ve lost or drawn just as many as we’ve won!
So who are these players who I’m loosely pointing the finger at? Well of course apart from Wilfried Bony who did come out with some disgruntled comments a few weeks ago about not being selected over a recovering, half-fit Sergio Aguero; if they’re not going to come out and tell us directly, then the biggest indicator that they may have given up wanting to try for their boss is how they are performing against what we know they are capable of. And so, for me, those who fall into this bracket are…
- Aleks Kolarov - who, lately, has been performing badly even by HIS own, low standards
- Kevin De Bruyne – WHAT?! Well exactly…”What” is going on with a player who looked so devastating early on in his still-fledgling Manchester City career that he even had all the neutral pundits drooling over what “good money can buy you”; to-then having largely 5 & 6/10 performances?! Why does he look decent at home and look like a lost child when playing away? Why does he not even look like he’s enjoying his football a lot of the time?!
- Yaya Toure – yep, here we go again...and it’s not even close-season! He’s been consistently taking some flak from an increasing number of City fans, has the Ivorian this season, and I’m just starting to add my voice to theirs; at least in this possible “manager fall-out” scenario. He just looks a frustrated and lacklustre figure for large parts of his game-play…and that’s despite moments of genius form the big man.
- Wilfried Bony – I’ve already covered with his little outburst, which I had some sympathy for at the time. I most certainly understood and half-agreed with his argument.
Others who may not be too enamoured with our manager include Kelechi Iheanacho, who may not have said anything - and certainly doesn’t get the opportunities to show us on the pitch if he is-indeed annoyed with his silver-haired boss – but who must be seething at his lack of chances to prove what he’s got to offer.
David Silva & Sergio Aguero too certainly aren’t lacking the effort on the pitch after their individual comebacks from injury…but don’t you think it’s taking them a long time to find their stride again? Don’t you think also, like De Bruyne, that they don’t exactly look like their enjoying their football either?
On the opposite end of the scale you then have Joe Hart, Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas – all of whom don’t appear affected if, what I am suggesting might be happening, is at all true.
Joe would never be like that; Bacary too is just a ‘head down’ grafter. Nicholas has only just been bought by Pellegrini, Fernandinho is just a smiler anyway and Jesus is one of the manager’s favourites…and it always shows in his efforts, if not-often in his end product.
No…it just doesn’t feel right to me at the moment. Worst still, it really, really does feel like that final Roberto Mancini season, or at least one that’s brewing.
I just hope & pray that if there IS an issue developing with some of the players behind the scenes that it can be quashed very quickly or that they’re professional enough not to let their feelings get in the way of gaining some silverware this season.
Slightly concerned City Blogger…