Manchester City now have virtually no chance of retaining the Premier League title unless something hilariously catastrophic happens over at Old Trafford. Don’t bother with the long-shot odds on City in the latest Premier League betting – if Chelsea were in any reasonable form, City would be looking over their shoulder instead of looking far into the distance.
The manager’s gut reaction to the recent defeat away at Southampton is to blame the players. Players who have been predominantly consistent throughout the time the Italian has been in charge of the side.
Individual errors happen but there are one or two obvious mistakes that Mancini has made which have cost the side at vital times, times which would have made the difference in terms of the gap between first and second.
“I only want players who are ready for the fight in the last 12 games. I am very angry with a lot of my players, and very disappointed – you also need to be able to win because you fight for every ball, and fight against an opponent who also wants to win the game,” Mancini told BBC Sport.
The first obvious error Mancini made which has cost the club ground in the title race was to start Mario Balotelli against Manchester United.
Maybe he was hoping for a repeat of Balotelli’s performance against United at Old Trafford last season but it didn’t work. He looked lethargic and uninterested and it took Mancini too long to work out that Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez was the better combination.
The other error that Mancini has frequently made is being unable to decide which set of tactics he wants to take into matches.
He has frequently switched to three at the back in matches across all competitions this season which has provided extra space for other Premier League opponents to exploit.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a system of three at the back means more space down either flank for opponents to exploit if the wing backs or the wingers do not get back and provide extra cover.
The decision to exclude central defender Joleon Lescott for large parts of this season is also baffling.
Lescott was one of the most important players at the back end of last season when City won six matches in a row to secure the title after United led by eight points.
Matija Nastasic is not a bad defender but he is not consistent enough to hold down a central defensive position alongside Vincent Kompany.
There are several reasons why City find themselves in the position they’re in and the manager needs to bear in mind all of them before pointing the finger at everyone else.
There is still hope but the chance of United slipping up again is something that Sir Alex Ferguson is very unlikely to allow.