Manchester City have lost the FA Cup final and will finish the season trophyless. The fact that it was a reckless challenge from Pablo Zabaleta, the most consistent player of the season, which precipitated the defeat makes it even harder for fans to take.
Even if they had won today, there would still be no question that City have regressed this season. A team with the budget City have will always be judged by how they fare in the league and Europe, and at no point this season have they challenged for either of the two big trophies.
The rebuilding process looks to have already begun with rumours that Manuel Pellegrini, the Malaga manager, has agreed to replace Roberto Mancini at the start of next season.
Whoever is in charge next season, they have a unique opportunity to establish the club as the dominant force in English football following the announcement on Wednesday the Sir Alex Ferguson is retiring.
It had generally been assumed that nobody could challenge Manchester United’s supremacy of domestic football until Sir Alex retired. For the first time in 27 years, United will begin the season without the great man in charge, and teams like City, Chelsea and Arsenal will see it as an opportunity to finally displace them as the biggest club in England.
The manager will also have to learn the lessons from last year and spend wisely in the summer. This is one of the most important transfer windows in the club’s history. Here is a look at three players who are repeatedly linked to City.
For a scouting report of Fernandinho, read Chris Atkins' article here.