The chants of "you're not champions any more" came from the West Ham fans at last Saturdays lunchtime kickoff. True enough, this was the first game that Manchester City were officially out of the title fight - now only remaining to compete for 2nd place, pride and the FA Cup. Although we may have verbally been clinging on to the "fight till the end" rhetoric that won us the league title last season, in reality we had already given up. The gap between us and United was too great, and they weren't showing the same weakness they'd showed last year. Perhaps it would have hurt more if we lost the title the same way they lost it, but because there was never much of a fight in it people have already moved on and are looking to not repeat the same mistakes next year. But to not repeat the same mistakes, we need to make clear what they were.
The loudest chants you'll have heard from the City end on Saturday, and at nearly every other game, were for Roberto Mancini. He is the man who won us the title last season, and created one of the most entertaining sides in recent memory. His tactics and his purchases created the team that lifted our first league title in forty four years. His admittedly questionable decision to continue to back Balotelli was largely backed by the fans until the end. Fan opinion was on his side until he stopped playing well, and he was gone shortly after. Other than that, he tried to continue with the same formula that worked last year, and should have worked this year. He began the season with five transfer targets missed out on or rejected by the board, one of which was Robin Van Persie.
It would take a really stubborn United fan to say that Van Persie has not been the difference between the two sides this season. Finally managing to break their flawed over-reliance on Rooney and scoring over twenty goals this season, he has given them what they lacked last season. At certain periods of last season they collapsed, and City capitalised. With Van Persie added to the ranks, there was no such danger. Mancini too saw this potential at Arsenal, and named him one of his top targets. Losing him to United seemed even more of a bad move as the season played out. The blame for this ultimately lies with the board. They may have taken us further than any of our previous owners, but they dropped the ball on this one. Failing to get any of Mancini's major targets left us to settle with the likes of Sinclair and Garcia, who've made virtually no impact. With rumours of us going head to head with United for the likes of Lewandowski and Bale, they can't afford to miss out again.
But if we had the same team as last season, why didn't we put up the same fight? The blame there has to go the attackers. We've conceded the least goals out of any team in the league, our defence (barring minor slip ups) remains as reliable as ever. In attack, not so much. And an en masse departure of dead wood is definitely needed. At this date last season, we had scored 87 goals with a goal difference of +60. This season, 61 goals with a goal difference of +30. The now infamous image of Nasri jumping out of the way of Van Persie's winning free kick sums his up as a player. Lazy and a lightweight. Admittedly, in a player like Yaya Toure laziness is tolerable. Because the moments in a game he's actually awake and onside he's one of the best players going. Nasri is not talented enough to deserve the same exception. Dzeko saved us at the beginning of the season, but as Adam Johnson also learnt impact subs don't make for good team players. Kolarov is not an attacker, but is another player that springs to mind to be due for the chop. He chooses too often to go for glory with poor results over being a team player. We've been a bit unlucky injury wise, and Aguero and Silva haven't always looked their best. But the Aguero/Silva/Tevez combination remains dynamic, and Tevez's brilliant work rate and new found good behaviour (in club matters, being banned from driving did not affect the club) means that a new contract should definitely be on the cards if he'll agree to sign one.
Second place and an FA Cup final (with potential win) has been deemed a bad year. We've lost the title of the champions that has led so many teams to up their game to beat us this season. Next season, with some fresh faces and the right mentality we can really take the title race back to them. Imagine ten years ago at the beginning of a season, someone would say to you that City would have a bad year. What would your first thoughts be? Relegation, at minimum. Probably whilst breaking some record that nobody wants like fewest points or goals scored. Let's remember, 2012/13 may have been a rough year, but we've definitely had worse.Suggest a correction