If a week is a long time in politics, I'm not sure how you measure this past week in the life of Manchester City. Faced with two crucial 'six-pointers' at the bottom end of the table and a tricky home fixture against Everton on the back of three defeats, we have managed to turn things around with a nine point haul which has hoisted us up into the top half of the table and generated some confidence that had clearly drained from the side prior to the Christmas period.
The first half today was a forgettable affair, with a scoreless draw looking the most likely of the outcomes as neither side managed to create anything meaningful and time and again passes went astray and movement was non-existent.
The second half though was a different matter, as City appeared from the break with a renewed confidence about them and this translated into some impressive play going forward.
The keys for me for this change around were Micah Richards, Giorgios Samaras and DeMarcus Beasley. Richards, again in midfield had undoubtedly his best game since moving to a more advanced role and as well as breaking up opposition play he went on a few marauding runs forward which whilst not quite in the Vieira mould, at least back up my belief that he will ultimately be more suited to the midfield role. Samaras - again brought on for the ineffective Corradi, looked a different player today. Willing to run with the ball from deep, he put himself about and attacked with a confidence missing from his game for the majority of the season. His two goals were testament to this having first created the attack to find Beasley who teed him up for the opening goal, before slotting home well from the penalty spot.
Beasley too looked impressive. Surprisingly brought into the side at the expense of Ireland, he did not add a great deal to the first half but in the second looked lively, integrated well with Darius Vassell, was willing to run at the defence and most tellingly created chances - something which have been at a premium in most games this season.
I said after the Sheffield United game that what we needed to do was put an unbeaten run of ten games together which could really catapult us into European contention. Granted, that isn't something that has been seen this generation at the club but we have seen the effect that three wins in a row can have - moving from 2 to 11 points clear of the drop zone, whilst we are now only three points off seventh place.
Ultimately, I don't think the squad is strong or deep enough to really challenge for the European places, but this past week has shown that if you get on a roll and begin to pick points up then in this league where this a lack of consistency from virtually all sides out of the top four, then it can make a real difference.
Heading into next weeks FA Cup tie at Sheffield Wednesday on the back of three consecutive wins and a rising league position, at the very least it looks so much more brighter and positive than it did this time last week.
"We got in their faces man for man and showed more
energy than them. And from our leaden footed first half we looked like we were
the ones on the front foot and full of running." - Stuart Pearce.
"I think we played well enough in the first half to go
on and win the game.
"We hoped to do the same in the second half. Manchester
City changed, and they upped the tempo a little bit, but for us to concede at
the start of the second half was really poor." - David Moyes.