Paul Parker

City still not title contenders

Paul Parker

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Come the end of the season, Manchester City's win over Chelsea may well have an effect on the title race, but I don't believe it adds too much credibility to their credentials as championship candidates this season.

City have shown on a number of occasions that they can raise their game against the big clubs, but equally they have carelessly dropped points against sides that on paper they should be beating.

Even the victory on Saturday was not emphatic, with the three points secured via one piece of individual brilliance by Carlos Tevez.

His undoubted talent will only stretch so far. Playing him as lone striker is fine, but a bolder approach from Roberto Mancini could well have seen them get more than a point off Blackburn at home and at least avoid defeat at Sunderland.

Tevez is the only one who is displaying the kind of work ethic needed on a regular basis to push City up to the next level. Despite the abundance of attacking talent in the squad, City too often lack creativity, and Tevez has to do things by himself. 

City have recruited a string of high calibre players, but they have all arrived expecting to join a winning team. There seem to be very few people in the squad who are willing to fight for the cause on a weekly basis.

It's very easy for any team to raise their game when they play a big team. Just look at the performances of West Brom and Bolton this weekend.

Even in the lower divisions, teams will always put in the extra effort when a side like Leeds, for example, come to their place.

City have been on that side of the coin too, during their last spell out of the top flight. Of course, none of the current personnel will have any sense of what that time was like for the club.

It is Mancini's responsibility to instil a strong team spirit that will make his players unite and battle in every match. All too often City still play as a group of individuals rather than as a unit.

Whether Mancini is the man to do so still remains to be seen. He has been at the club for a while now, but City don't seem to have moved on from the position they were in when Mark Hughes was sacked.

Last season, Hughes oversaw wins over Arsenal and Chelsea early in the season, but was still sacked before Christmas for not killing off so-called lesser opponents in other games. Mancini will be all too aware that the same fate will befall him if he does not get his side performing regularly.

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