A change of guard is usually an attempt at making a smooth switch over from one status quo to the next, one era to another, and while it is a watershed moment for those participating, it is hardly ever meant to strike a jarring discordant note. Somebody forgot to tell Manchester City that, last weekend.

Not only did they ram undeniable evidence of their arrival on the big stage down our throats without warning, they did it with such brutal disregard for the status quo, that we’re still trying to Heimlich ourselves out of choking to death. Their arrival, four years in the making, took place at Manchester Unitedai??i??sAi?? home den, ironically named the Theatre of Dreams.

 

Battle Hardened Now

 

The script dictated that Manchester City, Fergieai??i??s much derided Noisy Neighbors, dominate play for most parts of the game before unsheathing their sword and committing hara-kiri in the face of Unitedai??i??s legendary ability to conjure up a winning goal or an equalizer when you least expected it, and when the Red Devils least deserved it. United were after all playing at home, in front of a partisan crowd, with the man that time forgot as their gaffer at the helm.

Manchester City, on the other hand, were (or so we were told) a gang of money-grabbing ruffians, mercenaries who set their own toilets on fire, and a team with hearts so black youai??i??d think their arteries pumped the crude oil that their owners made their fortune off – hardly poster boy material for the beautiful game, or for team spirit or for any of the things the rule book said mattered if you ever wanted to taste success. It turns out that Manchester City were professionals after all. When theyai??i??re done winding up Mancini and his scarf, you realize they do actually manage to put on their boots and give a good account of themselves. And by good, you really mean terrifying.

It might have been Manchester United sitting up dazed after the final knockout, wounded, bloodied and Gaddafied. But lest it be forgotten, on the other side of England, Chelsea were stunned out of their wits too. The Blues, who were served a reminder that they were no longer the side with the biggest weaponry in their arsenal, were a confused side against Queens Park Rangers. Chris Foy, who immediately did Chelsea a favor (in his Evertonian head), by dispatching off their worst performing stars, helped matters along as Chelsea lost a gilt-edged opportunity to close the gap with Manchester City.

 

Nobody's Safe - Ties That Unbind

 

On second thought, perhaps the Blues deliberately kept their distance from Manciniai??i??s men on the Premier League standings table. They saw what the Sky Blues had done to their nearest challengers, and figured that the closer you were to mid-table the safer youai??i??d be from Cityai??i??s wrath.

Like the people of Pompeii who failed to evacuate at the first signs of trouble from Mount Vesuvius, Chelsea and Manchester United failed to read the warning signs. After the change in ownership circa September 1st 2008, Cityai??i??s machine seemed to sputter to life only occasionally, giving both the recent champions of the English Premier League enough room for complacency.

When United scrounged through its empty treasury to purchase Ashley Young, who counts among his many talents the ability to vanish from sight when playing Manchester City, and Chelsea did themselves a decent bit of favor by purchasing Juan Mata and Raul Meireles ai??i?? both very good players, if not AAA material – Manchester City were adding the likes of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, as well as tapping up David Silva and Mario Balotelli for greater roles.

 

Count Me In - 3,2,1, Aguero

 

What transpired was that as Manchester United and Chelsea papered over their cracks, using band-aids to seal a gunshot wound, Manchester City were undergoing plastic surgery. Correction, make that DNA replacement therapy. Nothing was sacrosanct, as Carlos Tevez was stamped out into oblivion, and the petulant infant Balotelli was water-boarded till he came to his senses.

When the best stars of some of Manchester Cityai??i??s domestic rivals and cross-border compatriots are brought in for big money, and left on the bench, it is but natural that each squad member selected for a game develops a burning desire to prove their worth in the portion of the 90 minutes allotted to them.

Contrast that with stars in Manchester United and Chelsea, whoai??i??ve now penciled themselves so long into the starting line-up that theyai??i??ve begun to see themselves as part of the scenery. It is fire that forges steel, but the fuel has been missing for some time now in two sides complacent enough to have thought the domestic league was something to toss between themselves until the Mayans decided the world should end.

Thatai??i??s why the gate-crashing by Cityai??i??s Citehdel must be so terrifying to both United and Chelsea. This isnai??i??t a case of a rejuvenated Liverpool climbing up the ladder or a defiant Arsenal threatening everyone in their midst. This is a new threat to deal with.

An Embarrassment Of Riches - Dzeko and Nasri

 

For Manchester United, the rise of City will remind them of the Mourinho-Abramovich era that saw Chelsea run away with the league two years in a row with a margin of 12 and 8 points. Chelsea have remained a thorn in Manchester Unitedai??i??s side, regularly threatening the Red Devils’ hold on the title.

If City emulate that, or perhaps even better than it, Manchester Unitedai??i??s self-pitying insistence that the 1-6 loss to City was just an aberration will soon be exposed as a delusion. At the very least, a City that wins this league could soon turn the 2-way tango between Chelsea and United into a 3-way free-for-all.Ai?? In the worst case scenario, Manchester City will out-muscle, outrun and outshine the two English champions on the field, as a whole outfit and in each individual player’s position.

For Chelsea, Cityai??i??s rise will serve as a stunning reminder how its own story can serve as lessons for younger, faster and smarter clubs seeking to make their dent on the race. If The Blues donai??i??t get their act together, and if they continue to stay content with being challengers this season under the pretense of giving Villas-Boas time, the Blues are likely to spend the season-end festivities rubbing their bruised noggins wondering just how another side learned from their lessons better than they did.

Manchester City needs nothing more than willing surrender from either of the two, to establish its credentials as top dogs in the English game. If they attracted this kind of talent over the last couple of years, with little to offer, imagine the catch they will haul in as champions of England. For all you know, the Sky Blues might just be getting started.

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4 Responses to “Manchester City’s Citehdel – Why Manchester United And Chelsea Should Be Worried”

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  1. Mike says:

    The best article ive read for a very long time , fantastic work Sanish.

  2. Aditya Sharma says:

    Great Article !!
    Mancini deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done at City.. Granted he had access to infinite riches, but he’s managed to utilise them and turn City into title contenders in a relatively short span of time.

  3. Akarsh says:

    Brilliantly written!

  4. Dogzenkatz says:

    I speculate otherwise. City are genuine contenders this season and for the next 2, but I do not foresee it lasting very long. Currently, Liverpool, Man U and Arsenal are still evolving, and this is scary news for the rest of the league but great for us fans. Dalglish has brought his old footballing philosophy and new blood to Anfield, Ferguson has just begun reinventing United and Arsenal have just about changed most of their starting 11. United have won and avoided losses in games they really should have lost, only getting their long deserved come-uppance against City. Liverpool have played like a team deserving of second spot but for their wastefulness in front of goal. Arsenal have surged back into Euro contention from their crisis that kicked them into relegation zone. All this, and we’re only 10 games into the season.

    For Arsenal, it is especially amazing that their cheaply assembled team has gelled that fast. Given they lack the spending power of the other big 5, full credit must be given to Wenger to get his team playing such spectacular football in less than 3 months. Their performance against Chelsea showcased a certain strength of character and self-belief that was conspicuously absent from any Arsenal side of the last 5 years. The slow rebuilding process after the disbanding of The Invincibles imploded spectacularly at the start of the season and Wenger was forced to grab bargains where he could to bolster his squad, but the aftermath has left him with greater depth than he had previously. Having most of his starting 11 out injured and suspended was a good thing, because he had to buy a workable 11 in the meantime and his main stars have all come back.

    When the King returned to Anfield last season, Liverpool’s performance was suddenly joint best in the league, next to Chelsea’s. Nonetheless, Kenny has changed the face of the squad this season by bringing in a whole raft of game changers and done away with positional discipline. Liverpool have been playing some rubbish this season with midfielders constantly clattering into each other and players not yet on one another’s wavelengths. Despite this, Liverpool have fashioned the 3rd most chances in the league, behind the 2 tactically best teams at the moment. Now imagine what’s going to happen when the whole squad clicks. This isn’t even taking to account solving the issue of wastefulness that has cost Liverpool no less than 7 points thus far. Stoke, Sunderland and Norwich were totally owned footballing-wise, but that still amounted to 1 loss and 2 draws for the Reds.

    Man U has churned out a championship winning win ratio thus far. It is Man City who have performed superlatively. While United have performed excellently with a fit Cleverley and have otherwise looked very ordinary, they still possess a squad that knows how not to lose except against truly exceptional performances like 6 in the City. Fergie is ostensibly experimenting this season with new tactics and knows what kind of players he needs. 25 years of squad building means he can afford to blow all of his transfer budget on 2 or 3 players each season.

    What the whole spiel above means is that the 3 teams in red with histories to defend have mechanisms set in place to ensure success beyond the immediate. Wenger has the brilliance to muster something out of nothing in a quick time. Fergie is a master of consistency. Kenny has impeccable vision. Adding to these, Liverpool now have the financial clout, Wenger has finally found characters and United haven’t plugged their gleamingly obvious gaps yet, we can expect a whole lot more from them over the next few seasons. City, however, is already at it’s pinnacle. Their stars amassed over 3 seasons have finally gelled. Mancini has all the components of his dream machine. City plays their manager’s game almost flawlessly and they have bought perhaps the best they could buy. They are at the top. Their only way to go is down.

    As for Chelsea, they are a step behind. AVB hasn’t come to grips with the English game yet. His star veterans aren’t getting any younger, and if he isn’t fired come the end of the season, he must and will overhaul his squad, and they will take 2 to 3 seasons to to gel. However, like the traditional powerhouses in red, City is only a real worry for a couple of years, until the rest of the elite have caught up – and they, not City, are the more realistic reasons why Chelsea should worry.