There has been plenty of negativity surrounding Manchester City this season.
They have been blasted for spending oodles of money. They have been trashed for not employing enough English players. They have been knocked for having a shaky defense at times.
In a season with at least four different significant title contenders throughout different points of the year, there will be ups and downs, there will be adversity. Through the adversity, Manchester City weathered the storm…barely.
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A tactical strategy built on the predication of long-term success instilled by Manuel Pellegrini has paid off, and the Citizens have rewarded him with the ultimate prize in the English top flight.
They led the league for the fewest amount of time among the top four teams – and yet they timed their moves perfectly. Or, maybe they didn’t do it on purpose, it kind of just happened.
Manchester City spent much of the season in second place, not first, and while it may seem like they were waiting for the right moment to pounce, that image doesn’t exactly do their journey justice.
Rather than sitting to “strike” or “make their move,” City simply stayed the course while others used a more engaging but more risky brand of play.
Liverpool relied on a surging counter-attack and predatory offense, but one too many times, when it gets bogged down by a packed box by vehicles such as Chelsea’s double-decker bus, the team grew frustrated and fell apart.
Arsenal played a possession game, and while it overwhelmed many inferiors, injuries took their toll and a shallow squad was hurt by a manager not able to adapt his game to the replacement players in the patchwork roles.
Chelsea worked their opponents to the brink using a game of attrition, and while a number of clubs – including top ones – withered to their knees in front of Jose Mourinho, one too many times they were left hung out to dry without capitalizing on an opposition not fully broken after 90 minutes.
Pellegrini, however, didn’t possess just one describable trait used week-in and week-out. Sure, City stumbled. They took a while to figure things out under their new manager away from the Emirates. They succumbed to Chelsea’s strangling effect twice. They were even shellshocked by Liverpool’s blitzkrieg.
But none of the blows turned out to be fatal, and when Liverpool became the last team to fall behind City’s long-term plan, it was just Pellegrini standing, bruised but not beaten.
Yaya Toure was essential, only falling to the mesmerizing brilliance of Luis Suarez’s record-setting season.
The offense didn’t have one superstar, but a combination of Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva, Samir Nasri, and Edin Dzeko was quality enough to outlast any significant injuries and swarming enough to keep defenders guessing as to where the next attack would come from.
The defense wasn’t as solid as it could be, but when the going got tough, an experienced cast led by Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta was determined enough to lock down just enough.
But the glue that held the squad together was their manager, the soft-spoken Pellegrini who didn’t let an ego get in the way of his ability to adapt his squad to the needs of the next match.
Oh, and the players really liked him too. That tends to help.
On the surface, it appears that Manchester City may have ended up on top due to the struggles of other “more worthy” contenders, but appearance doesn’t win the Premier League.
Points do. Congratulations to the blue half of Manchester.