World Football: Can Manchester City Really Challenge for the Premier League?

James WillisAnalyst IJanuary 25, 2011

World Football: Can Manchester City Really Challenge for the Premier League?

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City in action during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Third Round Replay match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the City of Manchester Stadium on January 18, 2011 in Manchester, Engla
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    So Manchester City are comfortably sitting in the top four having performed relatively well this season.

    While the club have topped the table a number of times, they have always played at least one more game than there nearest rivals, meaning based on points per game they have never topped the table this season.

    With the signing of Edin Dzeko finally completed, City fans will feel confident heading towards the run in of the season, but do the club actually stand a chance of winning the Premier League title?

Why They Can't: The Squad

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Patrick Viera of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal with his team mates during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Third Round Replay match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the City of Manche
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Manchester City's squad has only been playing together for a very short period of time.

    While there's experience in the squad, the amount of 'big name' signings the club makes every transfer window, means that there is very little experience of playing together.

    To win a league title, a team must have been able to gel together over time.

    This is proved by Manchester United, who have the most experienced squad in Europe, with players having been there for an average of five and a half years each.

Why They Can: The Squad

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal with team mates Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the C
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    There's clearly no shortage of talent in the Manchester City squad. In fact, it's the sort of talent that can win Premier League titles.

    In goal, they have both Joe Hart and Shay given, two keepers capable of playing at the very highest level.

    In defence they have players like Joleon Lescott and Jerome Boateng acting as anchors, both with plenty of international experience at the highest level.

    In midfield the club have a number of star players in Adam Johnson, David Silva, Yaya Toure and James Milner. All very capable players as they have proved for the club this season already.

    Up front, Manchester City boast one of the league's fiercest attacks. Carlos Tevez heads a three pronged strike force with Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli alongside him, not to mention Emanuel Adebayor.

Why They Can't: Remaining Fixtures

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  Florent Malouda of Chelsea battles for the ball with Gareth Barry of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 25, 2010
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Manchester City still face Chelsea, Liverpool (at Anfield) and Tottenham before the season ends.

    Chelsea recently look to be gradually finding their form again and may well be in line for a big performance against their table rivals.

    Liverpool, despite another poor season, still have Anfield and the Kop end as their very own fortress, and regardless of form, it's a very difficult place to pick up points.

    Tottenham, who pipped City to fourth last season, also have a very capable squad and arguably one of the finest midfield's in the entire Premier League. They proved they can beat Manchester City away from home at crunch time last season.

    City also face a balancing act with the club still in contention in Europe, even though a lot of their rivals are as well.

Why They Can: Remaining Fixtures

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14:  Luka Modric of Tottenham battles with Micah Richards of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on August 14, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Tottenham were the team to choose their own fate last season when they beat Manchester City to claim fourth place and leave the Premier League rich boys down in 5th.

    This time it could be the opposite way around, as City look to progress further.

    Provided the club manage to win their other games in the run in to the end of the season, they may gain some vital points and confidence boost if they even win one of these important fixtures.

    They may have their very own crunch game when their fate is in their own hands at the end of the season.

Why They Can't: Manager

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:  Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the City of Manchester Stadium on January 15, 2011 in Manchester, England.
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Roberto Mancini has had no experience in managing English football before he joined the club.

    Maybe he lacks and aggressive biting edge that most title winning managers appear to have (see Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho) or maybe it's still just too early for him to build a team that can dominate the League.

    All of his previous jobs have been in Italy, and that may not be enough to be successful in English football.

Why They Can: Manager

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Roberto Mancini the Manchester City manager directs his players during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on January 22, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Ian Wa
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Despite his apparent inexperience in English football, his experience in winning titles is clearly evident.

    During Mancini's time at Internazionale, he won three Serie A titles as well as a number of other domestic trophies.

    While he lacks that aggressive biting edge, as previously mentioned, his tactical knowledge is also clear to see. Coaches do not win titles and trophies without having an extraordinary depth of knowledge regarding playing style and tactics.

Why They Can't: Confidence and Ego

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City is sent off alongside Bacary Sagna of Arsenal (not pictured) during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium on January 5, 2011 in London
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    As Maradona once said about Real Madrid, "The problem is that they are all stars at Madrid. You need someone to carry the water to the well."

    Manchester City have filled out their team with star players and big egos, but the real mark of title winners is whether a club can grind out results when they have to.

    While City have done this on the odd occasional, it is clear that they struggle with it more so than their experienced title rivals.

    If the club aren't careful, they could suffer a number of problems within the team due to the amount of ego's they have at the club.

Why They Can: Confidence and Ego

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Mario Balotelli of Manchester City smiles after scoring his third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Mancheste
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    While Ego is a bad thing and confidence sometimes can be also, belief is a very good thing.

    The club not only have ego's but they also have the belief that they can go on to win the Premier League title.

    Maybe it's Balotelli's outrageous statements that have given the club that confidence and belief, or maybe it's their current league position.

    The club know that they have the ability to win the League title and they therefore have more of a passion to do so. So long as ego's and money don't get in the way, the club may well be on track to take their first Premier League title.

Why They Can't: Premier League Hate Object

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15:   Yaya Toure of Manchester City is helped to his feet during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at the City of Manchester Stadium on January 15, 2011 in Manchester, Engla
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Thanks to their sudden fortune and influx of big names, Manchester City have become a hate object to many fans in the Premier League.

    While each club will be only focused on their own campaign, many of the other club's fans will also be strongly against Manchester City arguing that the club would have 'bought the title'.

    This means that City can expect a very hostile reception at many games and it may well knock the players confidence causing one or two upsets.

Why They Can: Premier League Hate Object

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 18:   Adam Johnson of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Third Round Replay match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the City of Manchester Stadium o
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The fact that many of the Premier League's fans now hate the club means that City will have a chance to prove people wrong.

    If the club believe they can go on to win the title then they may well want to go on and prove themselves to the rest of England by showing everyone who didn't believe in them just how wrong they were.

    This could prove to be the motivation the club need to put up even more of a fight for the title.

Why They Can't: Title Rivals

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United celebrates with his team mates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Birmingham City at Old Trafford on January 22, 20
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Local rivals Manchester United are unbeaten at the top of the Premier League table, only ever having dropped points through draws. This could clearly prove problematic for a City team that have already lost 5 games this season.

    The clubs title rivals also have far more experience up the top end of the table. While Manchester City are an established Premier League squad, they cannot yet claim that they are established title winners. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Tottenham, have more experience at the top end of the table than City do.

    Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea also have far more experience in balancing the rigours of European competition with the domestic league.

Why They Can: Title Rivals

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Mario Balotelli of Manchester City celebrates with Patrick Viera after scoring his first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium on Decembe
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    If Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea make any mistakes then City will be ready to pounce. In fact the club are already above Chelsea following the London club's drop in form.

    This could mean for a very close title race and if City keep their heads straight they may well come out on top.

    Local rivals United have a relatively poor away record this season having only won two games away from home, and drawn the other eight.

    Stats like that are the motivation that City may need to push on to claim the title.

Overall

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Players of Manchester City observe a one minute's applause in memory of all the people connected with the club who have lost their lives over the past year prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester Ci
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Sadly for the club and it's fans it's hard to see them overcoming all the obstacles to rule the Premier League.

    The club may take the fight to their title rivals but beyond some major mistakes from the other club's in the reckoning, the title looks beyond their reach.

    Just before Christmas, the club had earned exactly the same amount of points as they had the previous season, when they finished in 5th and sacked Mark Hughes.

    If their title rivals don't make too many more mistakes then it looks set to be another disappointing season for the club and it's fans.

    Maybe they'll settle for a Champions League spot... provided they don't make any mistakes of their own.