A Few Thoughts on City’s SeptemberBy: Thad | September 27th, 2011
It’s certainly been a remarkable month for Manchester City Football Club–September has brought the club plenty of attention on and off the field. A quick recap and some editorial comments to follow.
Off the pitch, the big news is that Garry Cook finally found a way to shoot himself in the foot so hard that he lost his job. The former City CEO was busted both for composing an email mocking Nedum Onouha’s mother’s battle with cancer and accidentally sending it to her, then making up a ridiculous lie to try to cover up the incident.
I have never been a fan of Cook since he gave his blessing to Thaksin Shinawatra and announced his plans for remaking not only City but all of English football a few short weeks into the job. Other missteps, such as the handling of the Mark Hughes sacking and the idiotic recorded predictions that City would beat United in the 2010 League Cup, strengthened my view that to be seen as a first class club, City and Cook would at some point have to part ways. My hope at the time of Mancini’s hire was that the Italian would supplant Cook as the most powerful non-ownership voice at the club, and that seems to have happened.
I know Cook worked hard and made some good moves and improvements for the club, and I’m personally grateful he arranged tours for City to the U.S. the past two summers. But to be honest I’m not surprised either that Cook has shown himself to be the kind of person who mocks cancer when he thinks no one’s listening, that Cook could make up a transparent lie to cover up the first mistake, or that his tenure as City’s CEO came to an end in such an ignominous fashion.
So City have some board room shoes to fill. On the pitch, it’s been mostly excellent stuff this month. A quick rundown of the matches and my grade for each:
Sept. 10, Wigan, 3-0 home win. Match grade: A. City play spendidly, paced again by Aguero who bagged a hat trick.
Sept. 13 Napoli, 1-1 home win. Match grade: B. City carried most of the play against an excellent Napoli side in the club’s Champions League debut, only to fall behind after a second half counter. Kolarov’s terrific free kick saved a point. Memorable night, all in all.
Sept. 18. Fulham, 2-2 away draw. Match grade: C. Big disappointment this as City throw a two goal lead to drop their first league points of the season.
Sept. 21. Birmingham, 2-0 home win. Match grade: B. City get through in the League Cup. Next up in that competition: Wolves away.
Sept 24. Everton, 2-0 home win. Match grade: A. Tense, hard fought match, decided by a brilliant strike by substitute Mario Balotelli, his firs of the league campaign (in very limited action). Everton put up a great fight but City passed the test, and closed the weekend level with United on points at the top of the league.
Sept. 27. Bayern Munich, 0-2 away defeat. Match grade: D. City fail to show the requisite poise against one of Europe’s biggest clubs, just about losing the plot in the second half.
Overall one has to be happy about City’s season to date but certainly the pressure is on for the next European outings. City still have a chance to qualify of course, but it’s not inconceivable they could finish bottom of the group and be done with Europe altogether. 4 points out of 6 against Villarreal will be the bare minimum requirement.
The biggest challenge going forward is squad rotation and squad chemistry. Tevez has yet to really get going this season, and apparently squabbled with Mancini on the bench yet again tonight. City’s players must accept that many of them will be spending time on the bench.
The returns of De Jong and Kolo Toure could also unsettle squad selection. Personally I think Mancini should stick with the lineup that has served City so well in the league, for all league games at least. He’s got a challenging job–it’ll be interesting to see how well he pulls off the management challenge of competing on all levels while keeping everyone happy.