For decades the term ‘Typical City’ was a dismissive derisory description of the blue side of Manchester.
City were experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and as former playing legend, and later controversial chairman, Franny Lee once opined “If there was a cup for cock-ups, City would win it every time…”
Not so nowadays, where self belief and an indefatigable drive to win typifies the character of Roberto Mancini’s men, evidenced by City’s ability to win in the dying seconds of a match.
Mario’s penalty against Spurs last season, the AGUEERRRROOOO MOMENT and then this season, with Dzeko’s immense late late contributions against Fulham, WBA and Tottenham, plus Gareth Barry’s ‘way past bedtime’ winner, to shatter Reading just four days ago.
That said, it is with bitter irony that City head to the North East to take on a Sunderland side that has inflicted painful last ditch defeats on the Sky Blues in the past two seasons.
Ji Dong Won lived up to his name when he netted a blatantly offside winner on New Year’s Day. City had battered the Mackems with 70% possession and laid siege to Sunderland’s goal, only to be rewarded with diddly squat. Truly a travesty was perpetrated that day with Won’s last kick of the game.
Darren Bent had smashed a last second penalty past Joe Hart in the previous encounter, again after Mancini’s men had dominated the game.
As the only remaining Premier League team with an unbeaten away record, City will have to battle hard and long to avert an unprecedented third lightning strike.
With four draws and four wins on their travels in 2012/13 City won’t be contend to avoid defeat as they stalk league leaders United.
Statistics and sequences abound at present in the City ranks. A starting combination of Aguero and Tevez has registered a 100% win rate in 14 games.
City have never lost a PL game when Sergio scores – 20 wins and a draw. City have scored 11 times in the last 15 minutes this season – more than any other team.
Put simply, the overwhelming advice to anyone attending today’s match is don’t leave early!
The home team look likely to be without City old boy Adam Johnson, said to be suffering with a dead leg, while Swedish winger Sebastian Larsson is also missing. Hart and his defensive corps will be pleased not to be facing the dead ball specialist.
Mancini’s injury woes may have eased slightly with Balotelli recovered from illness and available for consideration. Captain Kompany might be eased back into the heart of defence to cope with Sunderland’s prolific Stephen Fletcher, who has eight goals from 15 strikes on target.
Still no sign of Richards, Maicon, Kolarov, Rodwell, Clichy or Nasri so young Karim Rekik may get a second start in the ravaged left back berth. Mancini’s preference for a left foot, right foot combination in the centre of defence means the luckless Lescott will probably be on the bench.
The emergence of Matija Nastasic as a composed and skilled ball playing centre back has been tough on Joleon who was a league winning City stalwart.
One can only hope that rumours of a move away in January are wide of the mark, but one wonders if Mancini will ever forgive the ex-Everton man’s inept display in the Amsterdam ArenA, when he was clearly culpable for an Ajax goal.
Lescott should stay, despite the surprisingly sterling displays of Kolo Toure. Toure the elder has done well during the injury ‘crisis’ but Mancini is looking for a sterling return with a difference on the experienced Ivorian as he ponders the January transfer window.
Kolo could be a transfer ‘casualty’ as City seek to strengthen to overhaul United’s four point lead.
Will the Roman occupation of Britain be belatedly swelled by Danielle De Rossi? Will Txiki Begiristain sanction a £48m bid for Falcao to meet the Athletico Madrid buy-out clause? Will Malaga’s midfield prodigy Isco be heading to City for £16m? Will Mario finally be on his way back to Milan but this time to AC, or will Carlo Ancelotti pay big bucks to take him to PSG and reunite him with Zlatan Ibrahimovich? Could Balotelli even figure in a deal with Roma for DDR?
Change is required if City are to continue to progress. The Abu Dhabi inspired revolution, is being forced to slow to a more evolutionary pace by the restraints and frustrations of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
But that’s for next week and indeed next year. For now, change would be welcome if it is City, and not Sunderland, plundering a last minute winner as the Blues dim the glow at the Stadium of Light and illuminate their title bid.