City's malaise is ill-discipline combined with lack of nous

If a season which promised so much for Manchester City ends in disappointment, as increasingly seems likely, what are the lessons to be learned? Players and management must share the blame for City's post-Christmas decline

Indiscipline (on the pitch)

Both Manchester clubs have incurred 38 yellow cards in the League this season – only Swansea (36) and Tottenham (37) have fewer – but while United have only suffered one red card (Jonny Evans, in the 6-1 defeat against City), City have five (Vincent Kompany twice, Mario Balotelli, Gareth Barry and Gaël Clichy). Not only have they won only two of the four League matches involved, this has cost them suspensions, among them the four-match ban Balotelli received after he stamped on Scott Parker.

Indiscipline (off the pitch)

"Why always me?" Actually, it is not just Balotelli. Carlos Tevez, Adam Johnson, Joe Hart and Barry are among those to have also attracted bad headlines under Roberto Mancini. The latter two appear to have learned from coverage of their drinking escapade in Scotland but Tevez has been a running sore all season, while Balotelli goes from one scrape to another. It was not he who set off fireworks in his bathroom, but it was emblematic; clubbing before a match, crashing his car, gatecrashing press conferences in Italy, fights at training... none of this is helpful.

Inexperience

City have World Cup-winners and finalists in their ranks, and internationals everywhere, but they lack United's experience in the Premier League marathon. Only Kolo Touré and Clichy, six years ago, and Tevez have won the English title. Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Touré have won major leagues overseas, but Ryan Giggs has more championship medals than all City's squad put together. This matters, as Sir Alex Ferguson noted yesterday: "Experience counts right through the team, not just with Rio [Ferdinand] but with [Patrice] Evra, Giggs, [Paul] Scholes and [Michael] Carrick. Those five represent players who are on top of their job." It is not a boast that Mancini can make at present.

Opponents have got wise

Manchester City romped to a series of high-scoring away victories in the autumn but then opponents got wise. At The Hawthorns on Boxing Day West Bromwich Albion sat back, sought to pick City off on the break and could have won what ended as a goalless draw. Six days later, Sunderland snatched a last-minute win on Wearside after a similar rearguard performance. The template was set. Since Christmas, City have scored three goals and conceded four in seven away games; their results are in binary code: 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-1.

Exhaustion and loss of form

All those millions and still Mancini does not seem to have enough players, not enough to cover for Vincent Kompany when injured or suspended, and not enough to rest the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Touré, all of whom have shown signs of tiredness as the season has gone relentlessly on. Dzeko should not be tired, he has only completed 90 minutes 10 times, but he plays as if his season ended when Bosnia failed to reach Euro 2012 in November.

Mancini's man-management

However furious they may be in private, British managers rarely criticise their players in public. When Wayne Rooney turned up at training the worse for wear, Ferguson dropped him but said little. The Italian approach, to judge from Fabio Capello and Mancini, is different. Barry, James Milner, Micah Richards and Samir Nasri are among those players who have been openly criticised, or embarrassingly substituted, by Mancini. What further irks them is that Balotelli, though admonished by Mancini, appears to be indulged by the manager as if he were a wayward, but favoured, son.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition