Yesterday, I wondered if Manchester City really had the “stuff,” that intangible spirit that champions require to get on top and then, even more difficult, to stay atop against the pressure and expectations that come with the position.
So far we just haven’t seen much evidence of that “something extra” from Roberto Mancini’s club, which is barely hanging into the pursuit of first-place Manchester United.
Did we see one of those wins Saturday?
City went into Carrow Road and emerged with a memorable 4-3 win. (Interesting: That was the very same score by which Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United prevailed over Newcastle just days before, that in a match I had identified as one of those special wins.)
It took a lot Saturday as City had been reduced to 10 men for more than a half thanks to Samir Nasri’s hotheadedness.
It also took special performances, one from Sergio Aguero (pictured), who was indefatigable in his work. Yaya Toure was his usual do-all self; has there been a more useful all-around man in the Premier League this year?
Edin Dzeko, with two early goals and then a second-half winner (although not officially), proved that there may be renewed life in the City crop of strikers that simply has not found net enough this year.
As City held the lead, the character and championship spirit finally began coming through. The effort and defending was resolute.
Then City was absolutely wonderful in killing off the match – and not just with those slow-go tactics, either. The ability to hold the ball and limit the home team’s attempts to throw balls forward and make something from nothing really was quite skillful in its execution.
Something special from City? Something to inspire the effort going forward? We’ll find out, because it’s only special if it does, actually, coax a little more belief and scrappiness in the matches ahead.