The media circus that follows Manchester City is like a ravenous lion ready to pounce upon its prey. Manchester City is a club in ‘crisis’ if they go two games without a win or without a goal. The players hate the manager and his tactics if they are angry at being substituted. The players hate each other if there is a disagreement on the training pitch or on the actual field of play. The players hate the club if they do not celebrate after scoring a goal. The list is endless and frankly I think you get the picture.
Fast forward to an unbeaten run of seven games and the hysteria surrounding Manchester City has quietened (if only until the next loss). City are playing good football, creating chance after chance (albeit not quite finishing them all off) and Yaya Toure is not even being slaughtered by fans and pundits! It appears as if City’s frightening attacking foursome of Tevez, Silva, Balotelli and Toure are starting to click, and not before too long as the hectic Christmas period approaches. With the ever dependable Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong behind them adding balance and stability to the team, James Milner must be thinking if he’ll ever break back into the side.
Whilst they are playing well and getting results there is (almost) no story to destabilise Manchester City. Add to that the poor form of Chelsea and the media spotlight is beginning (slowly) to stray away from the world’s richest club. After one of the best attacking performances from the Blues this season, particularly at home, against a transformed Bolton Wanderers side, the media could not help but highlight the ‘spat’ between Mancini and his captain Carlos Tevez. Tevez reacted angrily after being substituted in the 90th minute, pointing at the armband he wears so proudly and launching into some Hispanic expletives as he left the field, ignoring Mancini’s offer of a handshake. Had this incident happened at any other club, possibly one only a few miles down the road from Eastlands and with a player of a similar stature to Tevez, one assumes it would have been seen as an act of passion for the club. Indeed, that is how Mancini viewed it; he has said how he wishes he had more players like Tevez – players who are eager to stay on the pitch to help the team. What’s more Carlos Tevez, in an interview in this month’s issue of ManC (the official City magazine), has praised Mancini. There seems to be no problem here, a case of mutual respect and a desire to bring joy to a success-starved club.
|Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng have a disagreement in training|
From the photographs of the altercation between Jerome Boateng and Mario Balotelli from a training session on Friday you could forgive any playground shouts of “FIGHT”. This confrontation is one of several skirmishes that have taken place this season. The others have, more noticeably, occurred on the pitch between the likes of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor. Whilst they have all been tagged by Mancini as a display of passion and ambition, the more frequent these fights become, the more the media will highlight them as examples of disunity at the club, also known as ‘bust ups’. In order to prevent these disputes becoming public they should be confined to the dressing room or, in the case of Friday’s scuffle, the club need to either ban the press from Carrington or…grow more trees. Arguments happen at every club up and down the country, either they are all capable of keeping them behind-the-scenes or they just aren’t highlighted like they are at City.
Whilst City are in good form Mancini, if he even does read the newspapers, can enjoy seeing City’s barren spell on the back pages. Chelsea’s loss of form and the fact that things are running smoothly at City mean that the club are not being talked about like they were a month or so ago. There are no worthy, destructive stories to write about City (yet) and if their unbeaten run continues there won’t be for a while. Crisis? What crisis?
By Matt Hill