Man City failed to live up to expectations

FOX Sports' Marcus Chhan grades Manchester City's performance this season - and it is not pretty.

Joleon Lescott, Manchester City
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

Manchester City's season has been a failure.

I am not quite sure any other words are needed to describe the Manchester club's recently completed campaign.

But since I've been asked to review The Citizen's season, I shall expand on what I believe to be a very apt description of what has happened in the space of a year.

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Failure to defend their Barclays Premier League crown; failure to make any progress in the UEFA Champions League; failure to win a domestic cup competition; failure to sign the right players; failure to control or manage existing players.

Let's start with the Premier League. Players and managers have testified that the task of defending a league title is one of the hardest things to do in football. This is the case because players' attitudes within the club may change while opponents' attitudes change as well - everyone wants to beat the reigning champions.

Despite the challenges, City and manager Roberto Mancini - who would lose his job as the season drew to a close - would have approached the new campaign very confident of league success. And why wouldn't they? This a City side which showed incredible grit and ruthlessness to snatch the Premier League title away from Manchester United on the final day of the 2011/12 campaign.

The 2012/13 season actually got off on the right foot for City and Mancini. Second half goals from Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez, and Samir Nasri handed the Premier League champions the Community Shield in a 3-2 win against Chelsea, who were European champions at the time.

But it didn't take long for the cracks to start to show.

In fact, as soon as the UEFA Champions League Group Stage kicked off, City's decline on all fronts began to accelerate.

Being on the wrong side of a five-goal thriller to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu was hardly a disgrace. But City followed up this opening Group D defeat in the Champions League with a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the Premier League and then a 4-2 defeat to Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup two days later.

And by the time December had rolled around, it was becoming quite clear that Mancini's men were struggling to juggle a tough Champions League group - including Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Ajax - with the demands of the Premier League.

A 1-0 defeat in Germany to Group D winners Dortmund on December 4th ensured that City had astonishingly failed to win a single game in Europe this season. Just five days later Manchester United rolled into the Etihad.

Given that the Premier League champions eventually relinquished their title by 11 points to United, it might seem foolish to point at this fixture as ‘where City lost the title.'

However, United's 3-2 victory at the Etihad was definitely a massive turning point in favour of Sir Alex Ferguson's troops.

City's long unbeaten record at home had been a key factor in their title romp the season before. Here, they found themselves quickly down by two goals at half-time thanks to a Wayne Rooney brace.

Mancini must have been stunned by the score line because in all honesty, City were obviously the stronger side, they were playing the better football, yet were trailing by a distance.

Their response was predictable, though, with arguably their two best players for the season Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta both scoring to make it 2-2 but Robin van Persie's injury-time free-kick won it for the Reds.

The defeat dropped City six points behind United in the title race and they never recovered - gifting the now retired Ferguson his 13th Premier League title with United.

That December derby defeat to United told the story of City's season - The Citizens were still very good, just not good enough.

A huge part of this came down to a sluggish transfer strategy which saw them miss out on key targets such as Van Persie.

Van Persie ended up joining United instead and his league leading 26 goals helped fire United to the title while out of City's summer signings only defender Matija Nastasic can be considered a successful buy.

Javi Garcia had a decent campaign but offered little different to what City already had while you would be clutching at straws trying to think of any positive contributions from fellow new arrivals like Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair and Maicon.

"We did a market in the last week. We didn't have any other players. We chose these players because we didn't move very quickly last year. We moved in the last week of August," Mancini explained in what turned out to be his last press conference as City boss in May this year.

Mancini was obviously trying to shift some of the blame from a botched season further up the City chain of command but his failure to manage his existing players - the stars who won him the title in 2012 - was also a contributing factor.

He had several very public disagreements with players throughout the 2012/13 season - some perhaps justified like when he stood up for his new defensive system against criticism from Micah Richards - others not so much like his constant sniping at Joe Hart.

This coupled with City's embarrassing FA Cup final 1-0 defeat to Wigan in early May and the writing was on the wall for the fiery Italian - and it spelt ‘FAILED' in large red bolded lettering.

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