The UEFA Champions League has come and gone in the blink of an eye for Manchester City this season as their otherwise magnificent season gets its first reality check. Roberto Mancini’s side have blitzed virtually every team in England on their way to the top of the Premier League table, the Carling Cup semi-finals as well as being in confident mood to dispose of rivals Manchester United in the FA 3rd round.
Which is why Wednesday night’s elimination from Europe’s premier competition comes as an even greater shock to the system of Blues’ fans but the hotels in Manchester will hardly be complaining since the Europa League will only confirm extra games for the Citizens to play. But Group A is in the past now and the Italian tactician must ensure his squad brimming full of superstars are focused on their domestic matters at hand as well as making sure his team do well in the Europa League.
Indeed it is fair to say that City never really transferred their stunning domestic form onto the continental stage. However their failure cannot be put down to ”inexperience” as some pundits seen very keen on. Napoli are hardly a regular team for the contention of this trophy. Whatever went wrong from the Blues, they could never properly correct it. A 1-1 draw at home to the aforementioned Italian club suggested they were finding it difficult to adapt to life playing against the top of what Europe had to offer.
The comprehensive 2-0 defeat suffered away to Bayern Munich was overshadowed by the infamous Carlos Tevez incident but the one certainty that can be gathered from that night was how much Ribery and co. stood head and shoulders over the competition debutantes. 2-1 and 3-0 wins against Villarreal offered the Etihad Stadium outfit hope heading into their penultimate group game against Napoli. However the Serie A club won 2-1 in a decisive game which in hindsight, truly ended City’s campaign.
Their destiny was out of their hands, regardless of how the Citizens fared against Munich in their final group game as a win for Napoli against Villarreal would ensure the Blues would have to be content with the Europa League>. The table-toppers comfortably saw off a weakened Munich side 2-0 in Manchester but a similar result in favour of Napoli in Spain confirmed their progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Sheikh Mansour will definitely be hugely disappointed by the underwhelming displays of his club in this season’s Champions League group stage as his several hundred million outlay hasn’t transformed them into a European force yet. Participating in Europe’ second tier competition will be a slight humiliation for the star-studded collection of players at Eastlands but they should have little to no problems negotiating a path to the Europa League final which is to be staged in Bucharest, Romania on 9th May 2012.
Mancini’s charges will be favourites to lift the trophy on that date as they look to juggle and win four competitions come the end of the season. Their surprisingly early Champions League elimination should have pose no adverse effects to City’s march to their first ever Premier League trophy and only some rotten luck in the cup competitions will see them fail to pick up silverware there as the Sheikh’s plans look to finally bear fruition, albeit late in terms of continental progression.