The Civilians, who face Newcastle at home this Saturday, sit a massive fifteen points behind the champions elect and face an insurmountable task in regaining their momentous Premiership crown. After coming up short in their bids for both Domestic and European success, City must rely on restoring meager bragging rights through a second FA cup triumph in three years. If they should fail to do so, Mancini’s heroic status on Eastlands could count for nothing in a power hungry Sheikh boardroom.
Under the guidance of Roberto Mancini, the blues rise to the summit of English Football has been astronomical. Fuelled with a blank cheque book and an elite squad of players, Mancini’s machine was uncompromising and ruthless. Once envious of United’s achievements, City, were now leaving them for dust. Even when United were tantalisingly close to breaking City hearts once again, a stunner from Sergio stole the crown. However, whilst the blue side of Manchester still revels in that unforgettable moment, United have bypassed their rivals.
As Ferguson wallowed in agony at the Stadium of Light, he began to plot his revenge. The Wiley Scotsman swiftly flexed his financial muscles in the summer pipping City to the signing of Robin Van Persie, whilst also acquiring Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund. Although Sir Alex had brought in the PFA player of the year and Golden Boot winner, he had also won the psychological edge over his managerial counterpart. Already scoring 19 league goals this season, Van Persie dramatically settled the Manchester derby and has arguably continued to be the difference between the two sides all season.
In a bid to freshen up his squad, Mancini deemed tough tackling Nigel De Jong surplus to requirements and replaced him with the less influential Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell. Joleon Lescott, who was a vital cog in City’s impregnable title winning defence, has been relegated to the bench for the inexperienced Matija Nastasic. These drastic changes, to a side which delivered City their first title in 44 years, might have contributed to this colossal deficit.
Mancini’s title defence hasn’t been helped by his never ending star studded injury list. The unavailability of key figures, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany, have left City without two thirds of their robust spine for a substantial part of the season. Additionally, the absence of their talisman Yaya Toure has left an irreplaceable hole in their usually combative midfield. Due to his participation in the African Cup of Nations, Toure has been unable to recreate the magnificent form which steered City to Premiership glory last season. With a make shift defence and often rigid midfield, City have carried an air of predictability throughout the season.
In a season brimming with complacency, City have lost ground on an ever improving United side. It seems that this season, Mancini has failed to keep his side of the Arab bargain. As excessive funds continue to be pumped into Mancini’s never-ending pockets, the board will not accommodate another substandard season. Although this is a reality check on City’s quest for irrepressible dominance, for Mancini, it’s time to reassess.