As Tom Dart pointed out yesterday, Roberto Mancini’s logic was always curious. The Manchester City boss tried to depict a world where his Citizens deserved to be closer to league-leading Manchester United than the 15-point gap that currently separates England’s top two teams. He said something about injuries and fewer goals, as if Manchester City has been uniquely cursed by fitness woes and goalscoring issues. Call it regression, variance, or what have you – Mancini’s arguments was pretty weak stuff.
Given the thin logic, it’s not surprising one of Mancini’s players sees things differently. And perhaps not surprisingly, given the times they’ve butted heads, the first person to openly disagree with Il Mancho is goalkeeper Joe Hart:
“[T]hey have kept winning and we haven’t, so it has to be a true reflection.
“We have not quite finished teams off and little things have not gone our way – and I don’t mean that in terms of luck, but in the way we have played.
“United have been a machine who have kept killing, and we haven’t. They have just kept winning. They were always going to come back strongly and we intended to do the same.
Let’s stop for a moment as ask whether we’re taking Mancini’s comments too seriously. The man hasn’t always been the most reliable analyst. Last season, he insisted City’s title hopes were dead before going on to claim the club’s first Premier League title. For much of this season, he insisted his team was in still alive though United’s title-winning destiny had long been assumed. With Mancini now trying to redefine what 15 points mean, we should keep in past statements in mind.
Ultimately, this is one of the least interesting questions we could ask about this City team. Why they regressed this season is intriguing. Whether they’ll bounce back next year is compelling. Who was at fault and who’s the potential answer – they’re all worth talking about.
But whether City are actually closer to United than the table says? It’s just not interesting. It’s much more fascinating to consider why Mancini’s chosen to accept this skewed world view.