Blues Manager Manuel Pellegrini believes City can still win this season's Premier League title. But he is almost certainly wrong about this.
Manchester City have made great rescue acts before. The 2011-12 season is legendary for seeing the Blues rescue an eight point deficit with six matches remaining to claim the club's first title in the Premier League era. But that season, City were title co-favorites and had arguably the best squad in the league. Also down the stretch the team was almost fully fit and only had one team to overhaul - Manchester United.
The 2013-14 season also saw the Blues come from behind to win a title but much of the hard work was done over the festive period where the Blues started after the November International Break in 8th and yet topped the table by Boxing Day. The Blues falling behind Liverpool and Chelsea in February and March owed itself as much to postponed fixtures as any other factor.
That brings us to 2015-16. Manager Manuel Pellegrini made this statement yesterday: "I hope on Saturday we can return to our normal level of performance," he concluded.
"I said always the Premier League will be won by a team with 80 points or less - but we are not thinking about the title at the moment.
"It is an important gap - but we are not thinking about other teams."
Pellegrini knows that two seasons ago the Blues rescued a similar deficit and also is no-doubt aware that Arsenal much like two seasons ago is in the process of bottling it again in a tough stretch leaving it highly unlikely that they will win the title.
However, this season is the opposite of 2013-14 in many ways. That season the Blues started poorly, losing four away matches and winning just once on the clubs travels before the November Internationals. But after that City lost just twice in the Premier League - to title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool. Performances against other good sides like Everton, Manchester United and Southampton were comprehensive and impressive.
This season, if you take out the first 6 weeks of the campaign, the Blues are no different than Liverpool, Manchester United or Everton. A Europa League level team with occasional signs of being better and an inability to beat the top teams.
City were comprehensively beaten by table-topping and title favorites Leicester City just a few short weeks ago at home. Nothing that has happened since that match in domestic competition save Danny Simpson's silly sending-off against Arsenal has indicated that the Blues are anywhere near the Foxes level. The same can be said for Spurs though being a club that historically blows big opportunities the expectation is still that Tottenham will find a way to blow this title.
Clawing back into the title race with 11 fixtures remaining will require two things:
- Consistency from City in the Premier League even while focusing equally or more on the UEFA Champions League.
- The sort of collapse from BOTH Leicester and Spurs that we benefited from Manchester United having in the 2011-12 season.