Manchester City – Contenders or Pretenders?

The Premier League is under way. Football fans around the world have something to do with all that time! Just don’t get too excited if you’re a Wigan fan because I’m expecting all Paul Jewell’s (and to a lesser extent, Steve Bruce) hard work going down the drain.

For the first time in a while I’m seeing an open race for the title, between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City. United are deserved favourites, but I wouldn’t rule out the others.

Manchester City can’t be far-off winning surely? A superstar squad, with a taste for winning, and experienced Continental coach seems like a recipe for success. Or is it? Manchester City have become a frustrating club. To think, I used to like watching them under Stuart Pearce, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Mark Hughes. These days they play into the hands of teams like Stoke City. They have players capable of playing brilliant through balls, crosses and moves, but instead they will choose the short, smart ball. They are boring in their success. For this, I blame Roberto Mancini.

Without fail every transfer window this stylish Italian has gone out and bought a new striker, explaining a lack of depth in the position, despite the presence of Adebayer, Dzeko, Tevez and Bellamy. His recent purchase Sergio Aguero looks brilliant, but was he really necessary?

More recently, he has complained of a lack of youth coming through the club. The same club that has in recent times produced Michael Johnson, Nedum Onuoha, Daniel Sturridge, Micah Richards, Joe Hart (who moved to City at a young age from Shrewsbury Town), Steve Ireland and Ishmael Miller. In English football, Only Middlesborough or Aston Villa could lay claim to a better crop of young players coming through. The problem with Mancini is he is constantly compared to the much more likeable Mark Hughes. Hughes of course had City playing some decent attacking football; whereas there seems little intent from Mancini to actually attack opposition, despite having one of the most formidable squads in recent Premier League history.

Another thing about City’s squad is it is full of players that I have always rated. I watched Milner’s early days at Leeds closely and I was always surprised he ended up at Aston Villa, not Liverpool or Manchester United. Kompany was someone who I wanted Liverpool to sign and Joe Hart is the best English keeper I have seen since Seaman (although I don’t think he should be England number one yet) and Tevez has got to be my favourite footballer around. His bulldog style has impressed me ever since he played against the Olyroo’s at the Athens Olympics.

Ultimately, I don’t know what to say about City. They could win it this year and if it’s them or United, I’d take City. But the way they go about things, I’m thoroughly undecided about them.

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About Pat McAuley

Socceroos first priority but also Northern Spirit nomad, Bradford City supporter and a want-to-be football journo but in the meantime I work as a journo at a local magazine (Sydney Observer) on the North Shore where my priority is sneaking in as much football news as possible. Follow me on twitter to hear more of my personalised lunacy; @MrPatMcAuley. Thanks for reading!
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