If this sounds as a testimonial to the global strength of football, don’t blame yourselves. But beyond the short term implications of a derby loss is the long term worries that engulf Manchester City’s hierarchy at the moment.
The match was actually preceded by talk of how City can make a late dash to the title and gatecrash the party of Leicester Foxes. Let alone a late title charge, the Citizens are in real danger of missing the Champions League bus.
To think of it, for a club of this size and resources, challenging for fourth place isn’t success; rather it signals a climb down on their aspirations. Notwithstanding their Champions League achievements, the domestic form has been nothing short of shoddy and inconsistent.
Manuel Pellegrini may not accept it but his team’s chances to the titles are all but over, after the derby defeat. Fourth place could be the best finish for Pellegrini, though it is difficult to comprehend for the man who is replacing him in a few months’ time. But what’s really difficult to digest is the fact that City now have to withstand the late charge of Manchester United and West Ham United for the fourth place. So what’s ailing Pellegrini’s men?
Pep’s impending arrival is a distraction!
Pep Guardiola was a missing piece of the tradition that Txiki Begiristain wanted to build at Manchester City. His wish would come alive this summer as Pep gets ready to take charge at the club. And unfortunately, the Guardiola factor is partly to blame for the current chaos at City.
Pellegrini tried being a thorough gentleman but every time he steps out to take a question, the first one (and mostly every one) queries about Guardiola. The name has been hanging over his reign for more than a year but announcing Pep’s arrival in the midst of the season seems to have been one step too many for the players.
Ever since his capture was announced, City lifted the Capital One Cup and reached the last eight of Champions League for the first time ever. Progress? The other side of the story says that City have taken only four out of a possible 18 and in the process moved from being title contenders to top-four competitors. Regress?
And how do you expect those who may get the sack once Pep arrives, to give their best from now till the end of the season? Difficult choice for Pellegrini!
Injuries haven’t been kind either, to Pellegrini, who has seen Vincent Kompany’s absence translating into game time for Martin Demichellis. The Argentine defender is one of those rare breed of players who inspire confidence in even the most erratic forwards. And then the long standing injury to Kevin De Bruyne who was looking like the player of the season till he hobbled off.
Now with Raheem Sterling and Joe Hart choosing to get injured at a bad time, Pellegrini may live to regret the curse of injuries on his squad.