After a run of three poor league performances against lesser opposition, City turned on the style to beat Manchester United 4-1 and send a message to their rivals: After last season’s limp title defence, Manuel Pellegrini’s players want their trophy back.
It was a performance that had everything: Pace, power, desire and attacking intent. City looked up for it and played at a high tempo from the off—United, well, didn’t.
Vincent Kompany, who captained the side and was arguably City’s best player, has spoken about the importance of not getting carried away by a good result. Talking to the BBC, Kompany said:
When we won 6-1 at Old Trafford I said we need to stay humble. It's only three points, but it's a good game to win and it gives the fans something to celebrate over the next few days.
As is so often the case, Kompany is a voice of sense and reason. Although yesterday’s result was a good win, City must remain focused, not least because they have a tough run of fixtures between now and the next international break in early October.
They play Wigan next in the Capital One Cup, an opportunity for Pellegrini to rest a few key players and get others involved, before this weekend’s trip to Aston Villa. Bayern Munich then come to the Etihad in City’s second Champions League match of the season, before bogey team Everton arrive in Manchester.
It’s four games in the space of 12 days; a crucial period both domestically and in Europe.
City seem to struggle more against mid-table opposition than they do against the top teams, so this Saturday’s trip to Villa requires the type of application they failed to produce at Cardiff and Stoke—games which saw them take just one point.
You can win against your title rivals all you like, but if you fail to turn up when playing the lesser lights then league titles will prove elusive.
Last season, City dropped points against Stoke, West Ham, Sunderland, QPR, Southampton, Everton and Norwich. It was those results which prevented them from putting up a decent title defence.
For a team with ambitions of becoming the dominant force in England, it simply wasn’t good enough. City cannot afford to slip into that habit again this season.
While the derby win was great for the fans and the confidence of the players, as Kompany has quite rightly pointed out it still only represents three points. Consolidating the win with a victory over Aston Villa is now imperative.
City must use the win as a catalyst to put a run of good results together in what is a heavily congested couple of weeks.