Despite winning its first five Premier League matches of the season, Manchester City now appears destined to miss qualification for the UEFA Champions League. The Blues have qualified for the last five Champions League's and have made the knock-out stages of the competition three seasons running.
What has been made clear this season is for whatever reason Manchester City isn't good enough. Barring a win at Swansea on the season's final day (A tall order considering how well the Swans have played the last two weeks against sides comparable or better than the Blues at this point in time) Manchester City will finish with the club's lowest points total since the 2008-09 season, a campaign which began with owner Thaksin Shinawatra facing asset seizures and the club potentially running out of money. This campaign began with the Blues winning the first five league matches but since Manchester City's form has resembled that of Stoke or Swansea rather than Arsenal or Tottenham.
Regardless of how the front-running fans who have altered the club culture at Manchester City in recent years view things, the problems with the playing squad run far deeper than Manuel Pellegrini, whose tenure delivered three major trophies and a trip to the UEFA Champions League Semifinals in just three seasons.
Incoming Manager Pep Guardiola needs time to bloodlet the squad
UEFA Europa League is a second-tier competition that would provide the Blues with time for the new manager to get a good look at players in a competitive yet non-critical environment. This might also provide a chance to play prospects and Academy kids will allowing the first team to stay fresh in an effort to remain competitive in the Premier League. Next season, it is likely Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all improve. The Blues will need to be sharper and more focused during the league campaign if returning to the Top 3 is a realistic goal.
Team not historically able to balance Champions League and Domestic considerations
The Blues have demonstrated time and again they are not strong enough to balance UEFA Champions League and Premier League competition. For example in the 2012-12 season the Blues were eliminated from the Group Stage of the Champions League with just three points an embarrassing total for any club in one Europe's top leagues. The same week as elimination from Champions League, the Blues were sitting top of the Premier League table and would eventually finish 2nd reaching the FA Cup Final.
The following season, the Blues raced out to a strong start in Champions League but at the same time lost four league games before the November International Break. This season we saw City more focused on Europe than the league and repeated hangover effects in games.
The brass at City has failed for years to properly address the squad's deficiencies. While lots of cash has been spent the core of the side remains that which won the Premier League title in 2012. Financial Fair Play has also hurt the squad.
City can actually win the Europa League
Let's say the kids or whomever Guardiola selects can get out of the group stage of the competition. Then the Blues have a competition they can genuinely win. To date the club's lone European trophy was the 1969-70 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, a competition which in those days was revered. Having been relegated to Europa League, Guardiola might very well be able to add this to his European trophy cabinet, and by cash-in on the automatic ticket to the Champions League group stages for the following season that comes with a Europa triumph.