Manchester City should be ok today as long as it’s made clear to Roberto Mancini and his first team squad that a team from a ‘foreign’ country does NOT always represent insurmountable European opposition!
Forgive the sardonic comment but it’s odds on City will contrive to deliver a singularly underwhelming performance if there’s even a hint of the continent about their opponents. Non-English Swansea, thankfully, don’t qualify.
Michael Laudrup’s side are not representative of the kind of team who have been causing Mancini and his players Champion’s League nightmares this season.
That said, the mighty Manchester City should not consider themselves immune to pain in their own back yard, albeit we are fast approaching a tremendous two-year anniversary as to when City last surrendered three Premier League points in the Etihad Stadium. 30 wins and three draws is an incredible run of success – it just needs to run and keep on running.
Off the back of a humiliating defeat to unfancied Ajax in the Champions League, City must be chomping at the bit and will hopefully unload on their Welsh visitors. A repeat of the scoreline when Swansea came to the Etihad on opening day 2011/12 would be most condusive, with debut boy Sergio bagging two goals in a 4-0 win.
But before we let the anti-MCFC media pack run away with the agenda of ‘City in crisis’ and ‘Mutiny against Mancini’ and other cheap shots, let’s look at some FACTS rather than what the City-hating hacks are serving up.
Last season City were scoring for fun at this stage – 27 in the first eight games with only six conceded. This time out the numbers read 17 for and nine against. City had 22 points from a possible 24 – this time around it’s just 18.
However in terms of like-for-like fixtures, City are a healthy four points AHEAD of last season’s title winning campaign, having bettered the team’s results against Fulham and WBA away and Sunderland at home. The only downside has been the home draw with Arsenal.
It’s worth remembering that despite all the media hype and hysteria about City’s wealth, the club operates to the same 25-man squad rules as everybody else. For today’s match Cityy have six men unavailable – Milner suspended and Silva, Garcia, Zabaleta, Maicon and Rodwell injured. Nearly a quarter of Mancini’s manpower sidelined.
The press bang on about other club’s woes e.g. Fergie’s bunch, but never a mention of the constraints under which Mancini has to operate.
As one who invested in travel and staying in Amsterdam, I, like any City supporter was bitterly disappointed with Wednesday’s non-performance, but it doesn’t happen often. As a fan base, the City faithful have become somewhat spoilt in the past two seasons – blimey City haven’t lost in the PL since Easter Sunday…and there’s how many shopping days left until Christmas?
Mancini will be doubly determined to pick up where his side left off in the Black Country last weekend with another win today – a win that will take City above United and breathing down the neck of Chelsea at the summit of the table.
Expect changes where Nastasic and Kolarov may come into the defence. Scott Sinclair may get a start against his former employers and Dzeko may go back to the bench and do what he has done best of recent times…come on late and score.
It would be wrong – and downright daft – to dismiss the threat from Swansea, they did after all inflict one of City’s rare defeats last season. A change of manager and the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ means the Swans are among the relegation favourites.
New manager, Danish superstar, Laudrup was a product of a certain Ajax football academy as a player, so he would have taken an extra special interest in the events in Amsterdam.
The Champion’s League is the ultimate goal for City and their owner Sheikh Mansour, BUT, and there’s often a ‘but’, if you ask City fans if they would prefer to retain the PL title this season over CL glory the answer would be a resounding yes.