Manchester City may have left Goodison Park with a feeling of injustice but the problems lay deeper than a refereeing error. Sure, Marouane Fellaini’s handball should have been awarded as a penalty and should City have scored they may have gone on to win the game – or at least gain a point. The situation, however, is hypothetical and in reality the Blues got exactly what they deserved.
Everton had a point to prove although they never need firing up to play Manchester City. A shambolic defeat in the FA Cup last week against Wigan ended all hopes of a trophy, in a competition deemed as winnable, as David Moyes approaches the end of his 11th year in charge of the club.
For City though, sitting 15 points behind Manchester United, it was a chance to show that they had what it takes to claw the title back. They didn’t. City fans often sing about fighting ‘til the end, following the heroics of last season, but the 11 boys masquerading as men at Goodison Park showed no sign of that famous spirit.
The cliché of modern Premier League football is whether a player can ‘perform on a rainy day in Stoke?’ It should be changed to can they ‘perform on a rainy day in Merseyside?’ It is clear Manchester City cannot.
Roberto Mancini’s future is in doubt and there are many who remain unconvinced that he will be at the helm next season. All is not lost for the Blues, who have the FA Cup semi-final to look forward to in four weeks time. Indeed, if it is City’s name on the trophy as it was two seasons ago then a second placed finish and the FA Cup may spare the Italian.
But performances like the one at Everton will not help his cause and tactical changes that could have made a difference were enforced far too late. It was evident from the opening ten minutes that Edin Dzeko was set to be little more than a passenger for the Blues. Worryingly he was not the only one. When Steven Pienaar was correctly sent off for two yellow cards, City should have taken the game to Everton. Real Madrid managed to do just that against Manchester United at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but the Blues were incapable.
Despite a 15 point deficit on neighbours United, some City fans remain optimistic that they can retain their title, looking back to last season as inspiration. It won’t happen. They can’t witness performances like the one at Everton and then re-watch Sergio Aguero’s goal against QPR and expect lightning to strike twice. The season is over and the best thing the Blues can hope for is the FA Cup and second place.
Over the course of 38 games last season, City deserved to win the title. They were the better side for the majority of the campaign and made history. This year they have not and that is why the trophy is returning to Old Trafford.