Part the First: The Worst of Times
Our lowest point since the Sheik started this little experiment back in 2008. Granting there are older (and wiser) fans that witnessed darker days, the derby demolition at Old Trafford equals the nadir of Mansour's reign. With the sole exception of a frenetically paced first fifteen minutes, City lacked virtually everything necessary to win a football match and frankly can count their blessings they lost by only a brace. How badly beaten were they? Let us count the ways:
1. Beaten at the back, where Kompany couldn't elevate, Demichelis couldn't communicate and Glichy couldn't come through when it mattered most. Zabaleta spent most of the game getting shredded in the area where United attacked the most—in the realm of City's right fullback. As for the most expensive defensive signing in Premier League history, one wonders if there is such a thing as a Mangala Rebate.
2. Beaten at the midfield, where Yaya Toure played his worst derby in many a blue moon. Truth be told, using the word ‘played' implies activity. Anybody got another verb? ‘Inactive' works. ‘Floundering' will do. I'm unofficial President of the Yaya Cheerleaders Club but I can't defend this performance. David Silva, so strong in this thoroughly forgettable season, was only marginally better. Truthfully, no Man City mid stood tall after fifteen minutes of play.
3. Beaten at the front, where Sergio Aguero—City's only admirable performer (with a nod to Joe Hart though it's tough to compliment when four get through) played himself to exhaustion, getting no help at all up front while United enjoyed chance after chance because they linked up so much better than we did.
Add it all up and you get a no good, very bad derby.
Part the Second: It Could Get Worse
January 1, 2015, the top spot in the league belonged to City. An exceedingly busy December saw memorable wins in competitions European and domestic in spite of injuries that would make a medical insurance salesman hit the bottle and hit it hard. I read way too much internet commentary regarding City and I can safely report that there was nary a remark at the turn of the year questioning whether City would finish in the top four.
Well, we might not finish in the top four.
If Liverpool wins tomorrow—and they're favored—we've got a four-point lead with six to play:
- Home to West Ham
- Home to Aston Villa
- Away at Tottenham
- Home to QPR
- Away at Swansea City
- Home to Southampton
Which of those matches can you honestly say we are clearly favored to win? In our current form, I say none with the possible exception of Villa. A short month ago, statisticians reported City were 90% certain to finish no worse than second and 1% chance of finishing outside of the top four.
Can anyone think of anything worse than getting waxed in the derby? Can anyone think of anything worse than the very real possibility of finishing outside of the top four? Is there anything worse than watching City going into a match and not being able to predict who will play well, if anyone?
Answer: I can think of something worse.
Part the Third: The Worst News of All
I'm not sure how we get better. And I'm not just talking about this season.
Because of the obscenely designed FFP City's owners can't spend what they want. The powers that be decided the Sheik's (and anyone else who buys a team) can't spend their own money. I always thought the goal of the sheiks was to quickly build a powerhouse side, one capable of winning trophy after trophy while building a worldwide brand. First and most important step in the plan was to win. In order do that, you have to spend aggressively. And it worked—two Prem titles, two FA Cup Finals (one trophy) and a league cup. And then along came FFP to stop us.
I'm open to correction in the comments but I don't see us spending like we did in years past. It's unfair--the sheiks have no debt and are in zero danger of bankruptcy. Can we quickly improve given FFP? Anybody know?
Part the Fourth: Who Stays and Who Goes
You don't know and I don't know either. We just have to wait until the end of the season. But obviously, if current form holds, we'll see an exodus starting with the manager.
Part the Fifth: Poll!
You know what to do.