Looking back at the 2011-12 season, any football fan can see what a rich season it was in terms of football teams history and the Premier Leagues history itself. With Tottenham having one of their best starts to a season in over 50 years under the command of Harry Redknapp, with players such as Luka Modric, Kyle Walker, Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor performing at the highest level of their ability. Then there was their arch rivals Arsenal, having one of their worst starts to a season in over 15 years, with the loss of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy to rival clubs, whilst Jack Wilshere was left on the sideline for the entire season due to a recurring ankle injury, leaving a massive gap in the Gunners midfield. Chelsea also had a very important season in the clubs history, with the first Champions League title, after knocking out favourites Barcelona in the semi's and going on to beat german giants Bayern Munich in the final at their own stadium, the Allianz Arena. Even United, a club with one of the richest histories in English football, adding to it only with more negative terms in their shock depature of arguably the easiest group in the Champions League, and season with no silverware, something almost unheard of Fergusons reign.
However, despite the significant events that took part in these teams history, one team truly outshone all the rest. Manchester City. After a 44 year hunt for the top division title, Manchester City finally beat arch rivals United to be 'top team' in Manchester. After the introduction of fresh new players in Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, City stormed to the Premier League title in one of the most spectacular season in football history. After a perfect start to the season, with 15 home victorys on the trot and the 6-1 destruction of United at Old Trafford it seemed as though no one could stop City from claiming the title. However, time took its toll and as always United defied the odds and came stronger in the second half of the season eventually over taking City on points, drawing into the final games of the season. But come the final day of the season both Manchester clubs were level on points and all City had to do to win the title on GD was to win their game at home against QPR. Though it seemed that was easier said than done. 90 mins, Etihad Stadium, QPR 2-1 Manchester City. All seemed over for the sky blue but in the next 5 mins something that can only be described as the greatest premier league finale in history occured. City scored 2 goals in that short space of time through Edin Dzeko's header and Sergio Aguero's late strike past Paddy Kenny. History was made. City were taken the Premier League crown home, after a 44 year wait.
The 3 M's - could these be City's downfall to a stuttering start this season?
However, that is not we are here to discuss on this article. What we are here to discuss is what has Mancini changed in the squad that seemed unbeatable at the start of last season, compared to the seemingly weaker City squad currently, who have only picked up 4 wins from their opening 7 games. Now, some people may argue that 4 wins and 3 draws is not a bad start to a season, especially taking into account the fact that City earned a draw against Liverpool at Anfield, a very hard stadium to go to, but no one can argue that the start of this season has been below the standard of the last. Many City fans are blaming it on Mancini's experimentation with 3 at the back, in pre-season friendlies and some of their european and home land fixtures. Now, before you go saying that this is just speculation, you have to look at the basic facts. Last season in their entire campaign City conceded only 29 goals compared to the 8 they have already conceded in their opening 7 games. In statistical terms, this means last season City conceded an average 0.7 goals per game, compared to this seasons average of 0.8, now you may argue that this is not a big difference but if they continue with their current defensive record, this would amount to roughly 33 goals by the end of the season. Now another factor you have to take into account here, are the teams City have conceded against, such as 2 against Southampton and Liverpool, 1 against Fulham, QPR and Stoke, who's telling how many goals they could concede against the bigger teams away? Another reason to speculate on this 3 at the back format brought in by Mancini, is the fact City are still scoring in abundance, yet only their defensive record has dropped, showing it is not a drop in team ability whatsoever. Another way to look at it is from the adaptability of the players, in the aspect that the Premier League has a tradition of 4 at the back no matter what the teams style of play, so trying to change this may leave the players whom are inexperienced with the formation vunerable to mistakes, something which a coach as experienced as Mancini should've been able to spot when he was experimenting with it in pre-season friendlies. However, despite City struggling to find consistent success with this formation, taking their ability in individual players into account, other teams have found success in this formation (shown by the stats below) so not all fingers can be pointed at Mancini and his tactics.
Another theory behind City's slight struggle to pick up the incredible form they found last season, in the current is the lack of 'hunger' to create history. Now this being quite a skepticle one in the sense that most of the City squad probably didn't even know who City were until an email offering £180,000 a week popped up in their inbox, would most indefinitely not the know the little history of the club. This theory however, being that last season the players were hungry to get their name in the history books, being the City squad that earned the sky blues their first top division title in 44 years. Now, no matter where you are from, who you support, or whatever other loyalties you may have, the possibility of becoming a Premier League legend for any club must be a serious motivator for any clued up player. This could then, possibly explain the incredible motivation that kickstarted City's historical campaign last year, a motivation in which seems to have dissapeared this one. Some people are argueing that the introduction of new nig names last season motivated the clubs current players, to perform on a higher level to retain the key roles inside the club, and in many ways this is true. Clubs will often bring in new players to motivate the new ones to retain their place, while bringing in new talent to give then more options. Now, because this is one of the much more speculative theories dreamt up by football fans, there is not much factual, or statistical evidence we can bring into the argument, so finally we will move on to arguably football, and especially City's, biggest M.
Money, the most influencial thing in the football world. Very few players, resist the temptation of mega money, to go and play for the up and coming financial super powers such as Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain, Anzhi Makachkala, and Shanghai Shenhua. World Class players are leaving their beloved clubs to go and earn millions for teams lacking football history, but bursting with future potential. City, being one of the prime examples. Last season, City bought in 3 new superstars in the form of Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy forking out a total of nearly £70million on those 3 alone, shows a level of financial capability never before seen in the Premier League at such a scale. Now, in no way am I saying that these players have not performed at the best of their ability because they have, but what I am saying is the thoughts of many City fans, and rival club fans. In previous seasons, every summer City have brought in at least one world class game changing player, examples being David Silva, Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Vincent Kompany, however this summer that quality of player was not brought in for the first time in almost half a decade.
Now, in no way am I saying that City need any more talent or depth to an already formiddable sqaud, but that for the first time in the past 4-5 years the starting XI have had no fresh talent brought in who threaten to expell them from their spot in their starting XI. The lack of this threat could easily explain their sudden lack of motivation in the star players who feel no threat to their status or place in the team. For example, previously City's midfield stars were the likes of Owen Hargreaves and Stephen Ireland, now they are Yaya Toure and David Silva, a monumental improvement. This year they bought in new players such as Jack Rodwell and Maicon, who although they are good players, do not really threaten the current squad players, especially Jack Rodwell, who has to compete with the likes of James Milner, Gareth Barry, and Javier Garcia just for a spot on the bench. The only player, brought in this summer who I see capable to fit into the City squad was Javier Garcia, who brings a fantastic passing and defensive ability with him. Now, final player introduced by City over the summer, Maicon is in no way below a world class player, but he has been brought into a squad with the inform Pablo Zabaleta, and fan favourite Micah Richards, who would be hard to knock out of their places by a player of any quality. What you can see here is the classic problem caused by having mega money to spend, the clubs tendancy to 'feel' as if they should be spending rather than only spending when they need to, an ideology which City clearly have imprinted into their directors and managing figures. Now they are in a very expensive rout, of only performing to standard when there are new players bought in, which is not the way a club should work. It should perform for the club, not just for their positions and pay checks, something the big spending clubs and their gold digger players, dont seem to understand.
As a wise man once said, you can't fix what isn't broken - somewhat accurate to City's transfer morals.