After all the hype about City’s three straight defeats and the ‘crisis’ that surrounded the club, the blues finally showed their worth at the Hawthorns on Sunday.
Okay, so newly promoted West Brom aren’t exactly top four material but a win for them would have put them in fourth place at our expense. And after our defeat at The Hawthorns in the League Cup, the Baggies fancied their chances of completing a league and cup double over us.
But there were differences between that League Cup team and the one that walked away with three points on Sunday and that difference was Mario Balotelli. The Italian showed why Roberto Mancini spent such a high figure on a youngster who attitude can often overshadow his talent.
Balotelli converted a Carlos Tevez cross for the opener and showed strength to hold off his marker and score a second and secure the game. And it showed exactly what kind of impact the youngster had when he received his marching orders with around 25 minutes remaining.
It’s not surprising that Mancini has appealed the red card with Wednesday’s derby coming up but I think blues fans shouldn’t be optimistic. It didn’t seem like much of an incident and I rather feel much more was made of it than it was, but the FA may decide to uphold the decision, if only to keep him Balotelli check.
But it just shows how a decision like that can change a game. Two weeks ago against Arsenal, City dominated the opening exchanges but Boyata’s sending off changed all that and again on Sunday, West Brom sensed a comeback following Balotelli’s dismissal.
They put City under pressure and hit the woodwork twice before their own numbers were reduced as well. Following Youssuf Mulumbu’s sending off, all the fight went from West Brom and City eased home and took fourth place back from Newcastle. So Balotelli was hero and villain at the Hawthorns but we knew what kind of player we were getting when we signed him. But I would rather he stay on the field for the duration of the match.
But it wasn’t just the Balotelli show. Tevez worked hard as usual and David Silva is now adjusting to Premier League life after a slow start. The Spaniard has been superb recently for City, with a superb goal at Blackpool and some great crosses and it was she who was the architect for City’s goal’s on Sunday, most notably his reverse pass that set Tevez on his way to set up City’s first. It was a great team effort and if we continue to play like that, especially on Wednesday, the critics will silence and Mancini can get on with his job in peace.
Mancini’s future was again thrown into doubt prior to the game, with some sections of the media claiming he would be sacked if we lost on Sunday and the derby on Wednesday. His tactics have been slated for not being entertaining and earning scrappy wins. But, as a supporter of a team that has won nothing since 1976, I’d be happy with scrappy wins and three points than an entertaining draw and dropping points.
There have been a lot of comparisons made between City under Mancini and Mark Hughes’ team at the same time last year, claiming City had scored more goals or had more points twelve months ago. Who cares about that? It’s almost like the media are so desperate for Mancini to be sacked that they’ll come up with any old crap to make it happen.
Personally, I don’t think ADUG will sack him. They can see the media attention and are smart enough to see right through it. The Hughes situation was different. For a start, he hadn’t been selected by them and they could have easily dismissed him during the summer of 2009 but didn’t. They gave him a chance but it was a poor run and home draws against teams like Hull that were his downfall.
Like any manager, Mancini needs time and ADUG must know this. They can see a work in progress and we are progressing. The blip that has happened over the last couple of weeks will prove to be just that. All good teams go through one and we’re no different.
In Mancini, we have a manager who doesn’t always get it right, but he’s got it right more than he’s got it wrong and this will be proved in May when we sit proudly with a top four finish.
It’s all a matter of time.
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