Most fans would be reasonably pleased if their team’s record looked like that come the beginning of November. You’d maybe be a bit disappointed that you hadn’t been able to pick up a point in a couple of those three defeats and you’d maybe worry that a return of thirteen goals in ten games was not going to be good enough in the long run.
Overall though, you’d be pretty satisfied with the start you had made.
Pretty satisfied that is, unless you had spent £126 million during the summer to bring in six players, taking the total sum of the transfers sanctioned by the Abu Dhabi United Group owners since their arrival two years ago, to £325.5 million.
Let us not forget that the season prior to the new owners coming in had seen Manchester City finish in a very creditable ninth place under Sven Goran Eriksson and you can see that the progress made to this point, in comparison to the money spent and the two changes of manager, doesn’t seem to be particularly impressive.
Yesterday, City went to Wolves in a game that they had to win if they were to be serious about challenging the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United for the Premier League title. Wolves were sitting second from bottom in the table with just one win to their name all season and that had come on the opening day against the only team currently below them in the league.
What transpired was a fairly abject performance by City, described by manager Roberto Mancini as their worst performance of the season. The final score of 2-1 to Wolves was certainly a fair reflection of the game and a fair reflection of the fact that money cannot guarantee success.
City took the lead in the game through a penalty by Emmanuel Adebayor but were then deservedly pegged back and beaten. Adebayor had a very public falling out with team-mate Vincent Kompany on the pitch and the whole picture was one of a group of very expensively assembled players thrown together with little thought for team spirit and cohesiveness.
Mancini was honest in his assessment of the game, which was their second defeat in a row,
“We only played for the first 25 minutes. Then we stopped playing and Wolves deserved to win. It’s the worst game we’ve played. We must regroup and understand why this happened. This was the sort of game you have to win if you want to challenge for the title. You must play all games at 115%. I must understand very quickly why this happened. But the season is long, we started it very well and there is time to recover.”
A look at Mancini’s record shows you that he is a top manager. However, a look at Sven Goran Eriksson’s record tells you the same and a look at Mark Hughes’ shows that he isn’t too shabby either! The owners have unrealistically expected an immediate return for their huge (ridiculous?) investment and their patience may well start to be tested again very soon.
Meanwhile, the other three top clubs all won their games. Arsenal and Chelsea both played lowly teams who need to be beaten if you want the league, just as City did. Neither of them did it in style and both left it until the last ten minutes. The difference between them and City? They won the game.