There is panic at Manchester City following recent run of poor results.
The Citizens have won twice and drawn three times in their first five Premier League matches, which has seen them slump to seventh in the table. They currently lie behind their arch-rivals Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea—their three main challengers for the title.
The reigning English champions do possess the strongest squad in depth given their regular recruitment policy in recent seasons.
They have signed talented players like Javi Garcia from Benifica Lisbon, Jack Rodgewell from Everton, Scott Sinclair from Swansea City, Brazilian fullback Maicon from Inter Milan and Serbian defender Natastic from Partizan Belgrade.
City’s recent draws have all ended in 1-all and lack of goals is strongly questionable as they posses world class strikers in Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguerro and Edin Dzeko. In addition, City have most of their influential midfielders Yaya Toure, David Silva and Gareth Barry back in full contention.
With such a rich pool of talents and with high imaginative power in the squad, Man City is a team expected to score an average of at least two goals a game. last year they averaged three goals a game in the first half of the season.
Mancini will have to revise his approach if he is going to get the champions back to winning ways, and the sooner the better.
Looking at the City’s last two games against both Stoke City and Arsenal that all ended in 1-1 draws, the champions had early domination of possession but declined progressively. There is lack of aggressiveness from the midfield areas coupled with wastage of time on possession.
City midfielders like passing too much and this has given them high possession percentage but one that is not awarded points. Against Stoke, the Citizens were slow in their passing and were punished early on by Peter Crouch.
Stoke City is known for disruption of the opponent’s game plan and certainly Manchester City were the victims this time. Their ball supply from the midfield was cut short and strikers failed to get scoring chances.
City should adopt to use of wings or play wide against teams like Stoke and others with defensive game approach. You can not test defenders if you don’t get the balls into the 18-yard box frequently. Stoke City defenders were not well tested against Manchester City.
As a manager of a top club like City, Mancini needs to bring in the right players to finish off the task at the right time and certainly Scott Sinclair was not the right man to start on the right wing against Stoke. City needed a player who could cross the ball and not one who can run very fast with it.
Against Arsenal, there were similar circumstances with wastage of balls from the middle of the park. Javi Garcia, currently preferred in the holding midfield role, had lots of midfield exchanges with Yaya Toure and David Silva with little threat from the wing. This is not a winning game approach.
Silva is the man who should have been dropped or substituted early in the game against Arsenal. Silva had a couple of incomplete passes and his through balls were not accurate. This is why City should have opted for the use of wings in search for goals.
Mancini has many talented midfielders and should decide on who more is suited to face a particular opponent.
Another worrying factor for City is their generous defending. In their last four matches, City have not kept a clean sheet, losing two games against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League and Aston Villa in the League Cup. On both occasions, the Citizens took the lead but ended up in a losses situation.
This also goes with the lack of ability to protect the lead or defend deeply. In their last four games, Mancini’s team has scored six goals but have conceded nine goals.
They have also given away the lead five times in their last four games; twice against Aston Villa in the cup, once against Arsenal in the Premier League and twice against Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Mancini has failed to get a good partner for skipper Vincent Kompany. Against Real Madrid, he played Natastic alongside the Belgian and then Jaleon Lescot against Arsenal and Aston Villa.
Rotating defenders is not healthy. Coordination and communication form the platform of defence in football. This involves defence in form of tight marking or even when defending or covering space from the opponent.
These defensive skills are developed when players play together for a long time in practice matches and in competitive matches.