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Five Thoughts: Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland

What On Earth is Wrong with Our Team?

We know how you feel, Joe.
We know how you feel, Joe.
Alex Livesey

First off, let's get this out of the way: we're not out of it. Things could happen that would give the team that just lucked into a tie at home against Sunderland the BPL title. To wit:

THOUGHT THE FIRST: We Can Still Win It, Even If We Don't Feel Like Winners Right Now:

  • If Liverpool wins all of their matches then they are champions.
  • If Cheslea beat Liverpool away, and win all of the rest of their matches, then they are champions.
  • If Chelsea beat Liverpool but drop points against one of Sunderland (a), Norwich (h) or Cardiff (a) and City win all of their remaining matches, then the champions will be Manchester City.

So, yeah, CTID, we never quit, fight until the end. And even if we do somehow win it all, we still got some problems, people.

As I'm sure you're all aware, Manchester City is at present the highest paid team in the history of sport. No team in any league on the third rock from the sun pays more for the talent they have. The idea behind aggressive investment is sound: spend early and often to get the best players so talent is not an issue. And in the blue part of Manchester, the problem is not talent. The problems we have had and are currently having do not appear to be about talent, wages or resources. But we do have problems, people.

THOUGHT THE SECOND: We Can't Do Without You Happy Few

Since the Sheikh decided to make Man City his own special project and grab up the talent it takes to win, one thing has been consistently true-Silva, Yaya and Kompany (and at times Aguero) have been the best players. And if just one of those guys is off their game, our team just goes to pieces like a toddler who just lost a favorite toy. Versus Liverpool, our team could not cope with a banged up Vincent Kompmany (granted we still almost won but granted we were damn lucky to be down only two at the half). And yesterday, without Yaya and Silva, our team looked awful in the midfield. Fernandinho and Javi Garcia played with energy but were without purpose or organization. Nasri, who looked for all the world looked like a world-beater earlier in the season, could not get going until late in the 2nd half and James Milner reminded some of the more cynical of us why he gets the "media darling" label-as good as he was against Liverpool, that's how bad he was yesterday.

I'm not sure who is to blame for this-Yaya and Silva for insisting on getting the ball at every opportunity, other players for not stepping up or Pellegrini for coming up with another offensive strategy other than pass the ball to Yaya/Silva and watch the magic. Likewise, for the back line, once Captain Kompany gets beat in the air or on the ground it's open season on the City goal.

In short, it's been a blessing to watch Yaya and Silva play and it's been incredibly frustrating that when they are off their respective games or injured, our team can't seem to cope. I think the same can be said for Kompany and, to a lesser extent, Aguero. Every team is going to have injuries over the course of a long season but not every great team folds like a blanket when their best players are out, especially to a last place team at home. That's what we did yesterday. We were lucky to get the draw against a team we should've beaten soundly and it's because after all these months, we still can't cope with the effective loss of the above players.

THOUGHT THE THIRD: About Those Resources...

When do we point the finger at the medical department for all of the injuries we've been having? All of our strikers have been hurt. Most of our midfield has been hurt. The injuries that have ravaged our back line have been well-documented (shall we take it to the bank that Kompany will be hurt next season for at least a month?). For the last three seasons, injuries have been a consistent problem. Our healthiest season by far was 2012 and look what happened. Our players continue to get hurt and frankly, I think it's time to make the training staff accountable. If healthy, I don't think it's overstating to say we comfortably win the league provided we play with some modicum of consistency. Speaking of which...

THOUGH THE FOURTH: Consistent in our Inconsistency

If we lose the league (CTID, Fight ‘till the end), it's not because we couldn't beat or draw Liverpool. City actually plays very well in the "big" games-against opponents where much is at stake. What has been baffling about this team is their (ahem) ‘ability' to play down to the levels of their opposition and/or make enormous mistakes that lead directly to a shocking loss. To wit, at Cardiff City, at Aston Villa, at Chelsea (that mistake still haunts me), at Sunderland (just what is it about Sunderland anyway?), and on 2/8 an inexplicable scoreless draw versus Norwich. And just yesterday, a goal up against a last place team on the Etihad real estate and we can't win. That's a boatload of points literally given away for reasons that defy explanation. All the more frustrating that the above matches occurred in the midst of some of the more dominating performances we've seen in recent years. I'm not sure why a team can look like the top of the league in one week and then look disinterested, disengaged and frankly depressing in the next but I'm sure Manuel Pellegrini will be asked after the season ends.

THOUGHT THE FIFTH: Poll. You know what to do.