It is getting tough and tougher for Manchester City. The reigning Premier League champions are 12 points behind leaders Manchester United and with only 12 games left to play, the chances of retaining the title looks increasingly out of the equation.
Manager Roberto Mancini was left frustrated with his side’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton last Saturday. The Italian insisted that the players should take a hard look at themselves while it is unfair to point the finger every time at the manager. He said as quoted in the press:
“When you are a top player you should take responsibility always.
“It is not always the fault of the manager, the players should take the responsibility if they have big balls. If not, they can’t play in a top team.”
Mancini has a point here. Two of the goals conceded his team against the Saints were due to shambolic defending at the back. Joe Hart was at fault for giving Steven Davis a gift in front of goal while Gareth Barry found his own net closer scoring the most clownish goal of the season.
So, where it went all wrong for City? The script was supposed to be different. The main problem started in the summer when they failed to bolster the squad significantly. The players they have bought in the summer – Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Maicon and Javi Garcia – are at best squad players and are not expected to make an impact in the first team right from the word go.
It is a cliché that retaining the title is more difficult than winning it in any sport. Other teams are more determined now to rob points off City. They have raised their standards and must comply with it. It was evident in the very first match, when Southampton gave them a tough fight at the Etihad.
Mancini himself must take a major chunk of blame for everything. He couldn’t guide City to the knockout stages of Champions League and also failed to handle the situation of Mario Balotelli properly that added unnecessary distractions.
But where he really failed is in his ability to instil the hunger among his players. Over the years, Sir Alex Ferguson has somehow manages to drive his players and drill his winning mentality into them. Thereby, despite not having an extensive and rich squad like some of other teams, they manage to maintain their pedigree.
No other teams in the history of Premier League have won the title from this type of situation. Mancini said his side now has 10% chance only to retain the title. Is he using the same old tactics? Not this time.