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Manchester City’s final season under Manuel Pellegrini has so far been one that is difficult to quantify. There have been numerous fine displays and certainly noticeable improvements in Europe but just when you think they are about to really put a convincing run of form together, they put in some mystifyingly poor performances that are difficult to understand given the talent they possess.
Few would argue that they boast the strongest squad in the Premier League and in Sergio Aguero arguably the division’s only true world class performer. When Aguero doesn’t play, City’s threat is certainly diminished but the Argentine started in back-to-back home league defeats against Leicester and Tottenham earlier this month as they went from title favourites to outsiders in the space of week.
The Guardiola announcement
The easy explanation for City’s latest slump in form is that the announcement last month that Pep Guardiola would take charge at the end of the season is somehow playing on minds and affecting performances.
Perhaps that has impacted on one or two players such as Yaya Toure who would probably be right to assume that his City career will end this summer but with until last weekend, four trophies left to play for, the club and its players still have an enormous amount to focus on and potentially achieve this season.
The decision to announce the departure of Pellegrini and arrival of Guardiola as soon as the deal was fixed in stone was probably the right one. If they’d said nothing, the dignified Chilean would still be fending off questions about the topic at every press conference and the uncertainty of what was going to happen come June would have been the alternate explanation thrown out by some sections of the media every time City failed to perform.
In truth the frailties we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks have been evident for some time now and arguably throughout the entirety of the Pellegrini reign. Their title win in 2014 came about by virtue of a late 5-game winning streak to conclude the season and Liverpool’s late collapse rather than blistering form throughout the campaign.
No longer feared
Teams from mid-table upwards certainly don’t fear the visit of Man City the way they would have done against the great Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United teams throughout the Premier League era with the suggestion being that hey are at times a little bit soft and easy to exploit at the back particularly when Vincent Kompany doesn’t play.
If City can repeat their late season surge of two years ago, they could well still win the league with the other clubs at the top all likely to drop plenty of points between now and the end of May.
It could still be a very successful campaign with a likely first Champions League Quarter-Final to come following their impressive win in Kiev and potentially a fine send-off for Pellegrini.
An era of inconsistency?
However if they win nothing or even just the League Cup, then it’s likely people will look back upon the Pellegrini years as an era of inconsistency where despite boasting the best players in England, City failed to dominate the domestic scene as they perhaps should have done with several of their rivals clubs all going through difficult spells at more or less the same time.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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