Manchester City: the new kings of England

After ploughing a huge £800 million into Manchester City, including a massive outlay of over £460 million on players along with the pressures of owning a club that made a record loss of £197 million for the last financial year, the Sheikh of the East must at last be smiling upon his new venture.

For a change, in a sport never far from the hyperbole, hype and exaggeration of the media, it’s not an overstatement to say this year the boys in light blue have been, well, stunning. They have made the best ever start to a Premier League season, dropping just two points so far in a draw with Fulham. In their 12 games they have scored a whopping 42 goals, an average of 3.5 a game. Record signing Sergio Aguero has chipped in 10 goals already, as has Bosnian hitman Edin Dzeko. David Silva’s sublime displays have already seen him made favourite for the PFA award while defenders Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards have been hugely impressive, the former deservedly getting recalled to the England squad recently while the latter’s omission shocked everyone. Even the controversial Mario Balotelli is beginning to make headlines on the back pages for the right reasons instead of the front pages for the wrong reasons.

The incredible 5-1 thrashing at Tottenham and the 6-1 demolition of old foes Manchester United at Old Trafford stand out as just two highlights with the promise of so many more. With the exception of the on-going Carlos Tevez saga, Roberto Mancini’s team have suffered none of the problems that seem to have slowed down the pace of the challenge coming from the likes of Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

What is frightening for the rest of the Premier League is that it is difficult to argue that anything can stop the march of the Citizens as they go for their first league title since 1967-68. Their neighbours United started the season in the same imperious fashion, reeling off 6 consecutive wins and hammering 23 goals in along the way. But pundits were never far from exercising caution with the Red Devils benefitting from the return of Wayne Rooney’s goal scoring form and young guns Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverly playing with a youthful exuberance. Rooney’s stupid red card while on England duty in Montenegro sparked his dip in form and combined with several injury problems, United’s goals quickly dried up. Suddenly, from mauling Arsenal 8-2, United have struggled to beat the likes of Otelul Galati, Sunderland and Swansea in recent games.

Chelsea and Liverpool’s problems can be summed up by the fact that both of their marquee signings, £50 million Fernando Torres and £35 million Andy Carroll, started on the bench for Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge. A return of seven goals between them in 43 league games hardly justifies such a massive outlay and it was no surprise they didn’t start. Even though the Chelsea manager claimed earlier in the week he would still pay £50 million for the Spaniard, the fact that Daniel Sturridge came on before Torres says a lot about his position at the club.

The sight of John Terry on his backside after the first Liverpool goal not only raised a few smiles, but symbolised the terrible form of his defence, which is leaking goals at a rate not seen since the pre-Mourinho days. Their midfield, much like United’s, lacks creativity and the days of a star-studded bench to call upon seem to be over. Compared to a City bench packed full of international talent in every position, the squads of West London and the red half of Manchester look limited and tired.

Liverpool on the other hand, seem afflicted by inconsistency and if it wasn’t for the genius of Luis Suarez one wonders where their season might be heading. Although the team Robin van Persie, or Arsenal as they used to be called, have embarked on a quiet 8 game unbeaten run, they surely blew all chance of regaining a crown they last won in 2003-04 with a dreadful start to the campaign. Talk of a one-man team is a bit simplistic these days but such is the form of their talismanic Dutchman, it’s hard not to argue Arsene Wenger’s men are reliant on the free-scoring van Persie. He notched his 30th and 31st Premier League goals of 2011 with a brace on Saturday, joining an elite club of just Alan Shearer and another Arsenal man, Thierry Henry, in scoring over 30 Premier League goals in a calendar year.

Yet Man City might even spoil that party if the tabloid rumours are true and they make a big-money swoop for the Arsenal skipper in January. With the lure of Champions League football, a recent Cup triumph on the CV and extravagant wages to continue attracting the world’s best players it’s not hard to see a domestic future dominated by Sheikh Mansour’s side. Unlike Chelsea who have suddenly been knocked off their perch as the country’s richest club, City seem to have thought long-term rather than having a short-term spending splurge. They aim to create a youth academy on a par with Barcelona’s envied La Masia with huge investment and have recruited former United man Brian Kidd and Andy Welsh, who headed up youth development at Leeds during their own ‘golden age’. Chelsea’s own youth drive has dried up with ironically Sturridge, a City reject, their best young player.

Mancini is quickly getting a reputation as not just a decent tactician, but a good man-manager. Aside from the troublesome Tevez, who seems to have forgotten his obligation as a professional sportsman, Mancini has seemingly kept his large squad content and the big egos that were predicted by many to clash have so far failed to errr, clash. The way Balotelli has started to flourish under the guidance of Mancini is a credit to the boss. James Milner and Adam Johnson, both midfielders who have a big future for England, have apparently relished the competition, producing big performances whenever they have been called upon.

It is only in Europe where City haven’t been at their accomplished best. Their maiden Champions League adventure began with a nervy home draw against Napoli, before a losing visit to Bayern Munich threatened to wreck their hopes. However, the last gasp winner at home to Villarreal buoyed their confidence and their 3-0 crushing of the same team in Spain showed they have bedded in well now. A win in Italy on Tuesday will secure a place in the second round and they will be a horrible draw for any team.

Mancini’s statement earlier in the week that his team is on a par with the quality of Real Madrid and Barcelona will be reassessed in May, but if he can keep his squad happy and deliver the sort of performances that have destroyed top-class teams already this year then it won’t be that much of a stretch of the imagination to mention the kings-in-waiting of English football in the same breath as the current kings of Europe.

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  1. Frankie says:

    as a city fan this is probably the best football article i have ever read lol

  2. Anthony says:

    Not quite the kings of Europe after last night! Too be fair it could do them a favour in the league…quality side, still think they can get a lot better

  3. Anthony says:

    Not quite the kings of Europe after last night! Too be fair it could do them a favour in the league…quality side, still think they can get a lot better

  4. Pingback: PJ: Pressure will build on City | Manchester United Schedule and Fixtures

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