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City's collapse unmatched in PL history
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We’ve seen another remarkable weekend in the Premier League but the Easter program isn’t over. Join us on Monday for more action, followed by a big set of games on Wednesday that will have huge implications in the relegation battle. We’ll have a special Match Day show to help you get caught up and hope that you’ll join me.
City’s utter collapse
I think we saw first-hand today at the Emirates the problems that Roberto Mancini has in front of him. And if it’s not him, as some reports have it, then we’re talking about Manchester City’s owners. The fact is this is not the same team that we witnessed earlier this season. The decision Mancini made to rely on players like Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez, may cost him his job.
The aforementioned men are well short of the standard you need to compete against Manchester United, and they are costing the team dearly. After the game, Mancini said that Balotelli won’t play again for him this season. Interestingly enough, you have to wonder whether or not either man will be back next year.
I think the true professionals on City’s squad — Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Edin Dzeko, David Silva — have to be dismayed by this stuff, and I think it’s translating on the field.
Now, there have been a lot of comparisons between City’s collapse to that of Newcastle’s back in the 1995-96 campaign. I was on that Newcastle team, and it remains one of the biggest disappointments of my life. I still think about that season to this day, and have gone back many, many times to analyze the decisions I made: the ones we made as a team, and whether or not we could have done things differently as a unit. Honeslty, I don’t think you ever get over a disappointment like this.
For some people, opportunities only come around once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky. We all felt a lot of frustration and disappointment, and I know that is what City’s men are feeling now. We tried to address the problems the following season by breaking the bank — we brought Alan Shearer in — and I think City will have to find their own response. Until Sir Bobby Robson came in, it took us seven years to get in the right frame to earn a Champions League place.
But City’s collapse is due to some individual bad behavior, the sort of which we did not have at all. We collapsed because we lacked the experience — both as a group of players and in our management — and we got nervous. Unlike City, our team was united. The one similarity between our plight and City’s is the desperation to win the title. We buckled then, and City have done the same now.
For the record, I do want to say that if and when United win this title, it will be Sir Alex Ferguson’s finest hour. It’s truly remarkable how Sir Alex can just maintain that focus and drive towards success.
Now of course, things are looking up for Newcastle. I’ve spoken to a lot of folks back home and I can tell you the belief is there. OK, maybe we are overachieving a bit. But hey, you take what you can get, right?
I think the key now has been Papiss Cisse — he has taken so much pressure off Demba Ba — and his goal scoring prowess. I think you could have made the case before Cisse came on, we were a one-player team up top. Credit has to go to Alan Pardew, John Carver and Graham Carr, the team’s scout. He has done a magnificent job finding these players — Yohan Cabaye, Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ba — and deserves full praise.
Can we keep it up and get into the Champions League? Well, my heart says yes but my head says no. The fans are soaking it all in and expect more to come. Newcastle’s showed a lot of people what they are capable of, but long-term Mike Ashley will have to reinvest and bring in reinforcements. That’s what the Geordie faithful demand and deserve.
Dempsey for 2012?
Clint is a model professional: a hard worker on and off the field. He is getting his rewards for it, and I think we’re seeing him take his career and reputation to the next level. He is showing everyone what hard work and desire does, which is why it makes him such a great ambassador for the game in the States. He’s proved to everyone abroad he can do this at the highest level, and proved it to himself. He’s going to have a very busy summer, as I’m sure numerous club will want his services.
Speaking the truth
Finally, I don’t want Arsenal fans to take this the wrong way, but I think we are seeing what they can do once the pressure of the title race is off. I’ve been there – it’s a different pressure focusing solely on third or fourth. They’ve shown great capabilities but are four players short of competing with the Manchester teams. They must add talent and keep Robin van Persie. If successful, expect big things from Arsene Wenger’s club next season.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @warrenbarton2 and ask us all questions @FOX Soccer. Before I leave, I want to send a special shout out to my San Diego Flash. We won our NPSL opener 4-0 this weekend, and it’s a great start!
Former England international Warren Barton is the lead analyst for FOX Soccer Match Day, Goals on Sunday, and UEFA Champions League coverage.
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