Manchester City cruised past Stoke City with a 4-0 win at the Etihad, but nothing games in April for third place is a sad indictment of their failures, says Michael Graham.
“Manchester City v Stoke feature”. That was my remit on the schedule this afternoon.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that this was a game that would produce very little of actual interest.
Man City beat a clearly ‘on the beach’ and out-of-sorts Stoke City 4-0 that was as routine and ultimately inconsequential as you could possibly imagine.
And that, from a Man City view, just isn’t good enough, despite the result.
May is a week or so away, and Man City are playing for points in a scrap for third place while Leicester City and Tottenham fight it out for the title.
Really? Isn’t this kind of nonsense what we have blasted and sneered at Arsenal for, both this season and previously?
I appreciate that City have a Champions League semi-final that has to be factored into this too, and but since when has it been a case of either/or when it comes to European and domestic campaigns?
The fact is, that Manchester City have always been one of the true under-achievers in English football and they still, relatively speaking, are. The level has just changed.
Granted, it’s been a remarkable season. Spurs or Leicester winning the title is not just a result of Man City being far poorer than they should.
But there is obviously something remarkable going on at Chelsea, something we surely don’t know the true extent of right now, to prompt their implosion. Manchester United’s post-Fergie hangover still appears to grip Old Trafford, but I think the footballing world largely expected that.
What is Man City’s excuse, though? They have had continuity in management and added an already tried and trusted Premier League-winning squad with a summer spending spree.
It was a spending spree that pretty much only Man City could have embarked upon too, certainly in Premier League terms. Manchester United have spent a lot in transfer fees, but they haven’t been able to put up the money to prise a star player from a main rival in England like City did with Raheem Sterling last summer. Chelsea can certainly compete in terms of ownership and resources, but they themselves failed to raid a Premier League club for a top talent last summer when Everton resisted their many advances for John Stones.
Man City are, in that sense, beginning to seriously disappoint. Their resources have transformed them into the elite of English football and it’s difficult to see them slipping out of it any time soon.
However, they were nowhere near to winning the title last season and are nowhere near this year either. They are just, despite holding every possible advantage and holding them for sufficiently long enough now to really count, simply not as good as they should be.
April cruises past Stoke to try to finish third? Come on.