(Every Friday in the Cutter we invite a guest columnist to look back on the week’s events. Below Ragamuffin explains why a change of mentality at Manchester City is required if they are to attain trophies and titles in the seasons to come)…..
Far be it from me to criticise anybody’s coaching abilities (particularly a man known in his homeland as the ‘Italian Marcelo Lippi’…well, not really, but still) I can’t help but feel slightly depressed whenever I see Mancini’s City play, and it’s not just because I’m a United fan. Probably.
The most depressing thing about this particular depression is that it’s not even the heart-rending, emotionally strenuous depression that we all know and love; it’s just a bit tedious and annoying. Like Jamie Redknapp. Moving on from analysing my fractured inner psyche, it’s depressing because City play like a team with their best years behind them, rather than a future footballing powerhouse whose fortunes are on the up.
Their play should evoke thoughts of days bygone; swashbuckling, gritty heartfelt performances keeping their fans on the edge of their seats, rather than off them altogether. The reality, however, is a mixture of many things, not all of them pleasant. You can break the squad down into two easily identifiable factions; players who are there for the right reasons, and players who clearly are not. For me to cherry-pick these individuals would be a pointless exercise – it’s plain for all to see. The city squad should be purged of any dead wood and seriously negative influences before it can move on to the next level.
The ability to grind out results on a weekly basis, regardless of whether the team is playing well, coupled with the ability to kill a game off with ruthless efficiency are hallmarks of past champions, but I just don’t see that in City. Yet. This takes me on to my main point; what they need more than anything – and that includes Mourinho (for Mourinho, read Kaka, the FA Cup etc.) – is a winning mentality.
The knack of knowing that you’re never beaten, of believing, contrary to all the odds, that you can overcome any obstacle in front of you, is the most valuable commodity in any sport. It cannot be bought, only taught and learned. I feel, at the moment, that the City Squad lacks that certain belief and desire. Sure, it’s brimming with international pedigree and individual quality, but we are yet to see the team realise its full potential. Some of the more astute observers (anyone with half a brain-cell) would know that the most important ingredient for a successful team to ‘gel’ would be time itself.
However, time, in football, is always of the essence. Managers’ and even players’ jobs are to deliver results, ASAP, and in some cases, immediately. Mancini does not have infinite time on his side, but he does have a squad capable of achieving more. Again, I reiterate that my coaching experience extends only to uttering encouraging four letter words from the South Stand every so often, but I can identify where I think City are pulling up short.
The most annoying thing about City’s performance against Chelsea wasn’t the fact that they cared more about not losing than winning; it was that that they could have won, if only they’d gone for it. “Going for it” seems to be going out of fashion these days (unless you’re Spurs) but that’s what Mancini needs to do more often. He needs to show more faith in his talented players, and in turn, their belief will grow…ignoring for a second, the paradox of accusing any squad containing Mario Balotelli of lacking belief.
Of course, a trophy would do wonders for the playing staff and more importantly, the fans, but success, and sustained success only come when your players truly think that they can do it. I don’t doubt for one second the ability of Manchester City’s squad to achieve sustained success, but what I do doubt is whether they believe they can.
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