`Applaud my friends the comedy is over`, these are the words Beethoven reportedly uttered on his deathbed. They have been apocryphal but they would make a fitting epitaph for the death of City’s title challenge. Except of course it will be contempt and criticism that will come City’s way for imploding spectacularly in the last few weeks.
The volley of criticism will be aimed primarily at Mancini and Balotelli, the player who has embodied the failure of the City squad to control their emotions in the final straight. His red card was inevitable yesterday, as was the commentary that followed. Neville with relish stated `every circus has its clowns` a line he must have been saving for months. Redknapp joined in by stating with certainty the Italian had divided the dressing room and heroic figures like Kompany and Lescott must hold him in low esteem.
To pinpoint the failure of Mancini to tame Balotelli as the main reason for City’s collapse is of course myopic but while the media concentrate on the controversial player and for the umpteenth time list his various misdemeanors it is best to analyze the other reasons for the collapse.
1) The first of course is the lack of experience within the City squad. Much hay has been made about United`s superior know how in clinching titles but that does not make it any less true. City have the superior squad but one that is unfamiliar with the demands of a premiership winning campaign.
2) Fatigue to star players. Silva and Aguero were sparkling for the first half of the campaign and devastating in their link up play and ability to conjure up moments of brilliance. Mancini made no secret of their importance and as a consequence has played them into the ground. Mentally the burden has been greater. With Dzeko unable to maintain his early form, Balotelli too unpredictable, Toure off for a lengthy sojourn in Africa, the expectation on the duo has proved too much. It is no coincidence the two looked shadows of the former self in recent weeks.
3) Key absences at key times. Toure and Kompany have missed a string of key games for various reasons and their towering influence deserted City just when they needed them most. You could argue that City deserve little sympathy when United lost their own warrior in Vidic for the season. However United have an abundance of influential players to alleviate their troubles and of course have the manager. City were ill equipped to cope with the loss of two out of three on field leaders.
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