Whats going wrong at Manchester City?

Following their 3-1 defeat at Southampton on Saturday, Man City manager Roberto Mancini gave his side a ‘’10% chance’’ of retaining their Premier League crown, but why have City not matched the heights that they reached last season?

Let’s start at the back, England goalkeeper Joe Hart has certainly made a number of errors for certain goals at crucial times this season, most recently his spillage which allowed Steven Davis the easiest goal he will ever score during Saturday’s game. 

There is a chance part of Hart’s unstable form is down to a lack of a settled defence in front of him.  Mancini tinkered throughout pre-season with a system involving only three defenders.  City went through their entire pre season campaign with this system, even deploying it in their Community Shield victory over Chelsea.  The second the Premier League season got under way, Mancini reverteReferencesd to a flat back four, this uncertainty in a settled system is bound to take its toll on players.  It is also worth noting that defensive injuries have played their part.  Injuries to this season’s first choice centre half pairing of Matija Nastasic and Vincent Kompany, their influential captain have meant that Mancini was forced to not only field Joleon Lescott, a player previously out of favour and surely lacking match sharpness, but also defensive midfielder Javi Garcia as a make-shift centre back.

Moving into midfield, the undoubted driving force behind last season’s title win, Yaya Toure has really struggled to replicate his form of last term.  There were times last year that Toure was almost unplayable, breaking up the play on the edge of his own penalty area and driving the team forward, often popping up in the box and scoring important goals at crucial times.  Javi Garcia, a holding midfielder brought in on deadline day has failed to live up to expectation despite being given a run of games since Toure’s recent jaunt to the African Cup of Nations.  Gareth Barry, one of the most consistent Premier League players of recent years, many would say is not the player he was and the younger reinforcement in Jack Rodwell has rather predictably struggled through injury since his summer move from Everton.

Along with Toure, David Silva was one of the main architects of City’s success last season, and although struggling for consistency, is still showing signs of last season’s mercurial form in fits and starts.  Samir Nasri on the other hand is currently a passenger in this City side.  The former Arsenal man has the ability to change any game but is currently going missing in far too many games.  In far too many games this season it has been left to James Milner to be City’s most attacking threat from midfield.  Milner has been one of the shining lights in City’s season so far but although there can be no doubting the hard work of Milner and his willingness to run through brick walls for the team, there are far better technical players in this City team that need to start pulling their weight.

In attack, Sergio Aguero has struggled to replicate his goal return of last season, although his level of hard work for the team has remained at its same high standard.  Aguero’s downturn in goals has been supplemented by Edin Dzeko, an early season ‘super sub’ who has recently established himself in the team with his goals and has become another plus point for Mancini’s side this season.  In reserve, goals from Carlos Tevez have also dried up, although like Aguero he continues to work hard for the team.

Despite all of these issues, it is to be commended that City are still in the title race, albeit by the skin of their teeth.  It is also quite rare to be discussing issues at The Etihad that do not include the name Mario Balotelli.  Any misdemeanours by the flamboyant Italian before his January move to AC Milan go out of the window, he was difficult to manage at the best of times last season and City still went on the win the title.

Aaron Sharp