Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mancini's Priorities.

Manchester City suffered a possibly terminal reverse in Naples last night meaning that their Champions League progress is now out of their hands even if they were to beat Bayern at home next month.

Much is being made of the negative approach that Mancini took again whilst travelling in Europe as he had in Munchen. City have swept all before them in the Premiership this season by playing a brand of attacking football that has been fantastic to watch. Against Napoli last night, much as against Bayern they were defensive and ponderous.

One must initally again question Mancini's tactics and selection again last night. For a team looking to play on the counter attack, the sight of the pacey Aguero, Nasri and even Adam Johnson sitting on the bench looks odd to say the least. Dzeko and Balotelli so far has been a fairly untried partnership, it seemed a strange occasion to try it out for size.

What one must question however is how motivated Mancini is to to progress in the CL. No one is suggesting he wants to be knocked out but one gets the sense that his priority is the Premiership without question, especially as that would directly supplant their neighbours. It is also a far more realistic prospect.

Focusing on the Champions League is usually foolhardy, Chelsea have endured a (false) obsession with the CL which in apart from possibly a couple of seasons where they were decent outside bets they simply weren't good enough to win it. That focus had been removed from the league where they have won only one Premiership of the last five. In the previous decade, Arsenal competed in the CL every year and Chelsea in nearly all yet neither of them won it once, the league remains the bread and butter.

Mancini knows the strength of the CL this season having seen Bayern up close and knowing that the likes of Real and Barca remain in wait. A huge dose of luck is required to win it whereas the consistency they are showing in the Premiership could already be enough to clinch the trophy they so desire.

Juggling Europe and domestic matches is a tough ask. The likes of Ferguson at ManYoo have becomes masters of it other than the occasional blip. Mancini knows that his players in many instances lack that know how yet of raising themselves twice a week and it is for that reason that the likes of Aguero were on the bench last night. Spurs suffered to a degree last season with their CL participation and at their own level, Stoke are having a tough time balancing the Premiership and the Europa League.

It is often both a cliche and a lie that teams are happy to go out of cup competitions and often it can cause a loss of momentum in the league. This blog is quite sure that Mancini would love a quarter final against Real Madrid next March but nevertheless it is not his priority, it is simply nice if it comes along. Should City win the league this season, no one will remember this night in Naples, the Champions League can wait for a season or two but the Premiership cannot - No Nonsense.