A weak season by
Villa have had a strong season: reaching the League Cup final, now in the Semis of the FA Cup, and of course still vying for fourth. Their cup runs could impact on the League in one of two ways. Performances like the one O’Neill’s men gave against
Spurs have had a similar season to ourselves. Whilst they are at the right end of the table, you feel they’ve never really got into top gear. Fourth position may prove to be just out of their reach, but with the firepower they have up front, you cannot write them off.
On the record
Our record this season against these opponents has been average to bad. Probably our best performance in this department has come at
Looking at our remaining fixture list, the two games that really stand out for me are the home matches against Spurs and Villa. If we can win these two encounters then we will certainly not be far away when we reach game number 38. Aside from these, other tough games are on the horizon. Everton at home, Arsenal away, and of course United still have to make the journey to the Eastern side of Manchester – a match that could eventually turn out to have massive implications for both clubs. I really feel that for one of the Mancunian sides this derby will be the real icing on the cake of a season that has played host to the most epic set of derby encounters I can remember. There’s certainly a twist to be had here.
The recipe for fourth
To finish in fourth position, we need this man to come back on song. So far Adebayor has been disappointing, coming far short of the fee we paid for him. For whatever reason, the spectre of Arsenal has consumed him for the best part of this season. The trauma of
Then come the vital ingredients. Tevez needs to continue the brilliance that he has shown pretty much all season. He missed games through family commitments in South America, but his return against Chelsea was a real shot in our arm for us, no doubt about that. It just underlines how important Carlos Tevez is to this club.
As is his team mate Craig Bellamy. It has been a groundbreaking season for the Welshman. Having seen off the challenges of Martin Petrov and Robinho for the left flank attacking position, Bellamy has simultaneously underlined his own talent and illuminated the good judgement of Mark Hughes in bringing him to the club. There is always going to be questions over Bellamy’s fitness, the condition of his troublesome knee, his ability to handle two games in the space of a week. But the fact remains that without him, without his pace, aggression and tenacity, our attack is severely blunted.
At the back, a defensive partnership of Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany present until the end of the season would be nice. It has taken a while for Lescott to settle, but finally I think we are seeing the signs. Toure’s captaincy has never felt right to me. The guy might be just going through a bad patch in form, but he has not impressed me this season. I think its always hard for a player to sign for a club and become the captain immediately. Toure may well be a talker, a good leader, but his form has been so inconsistent this season that I believe it has hampered his ability to lead credibly.
Mancini also needs to find the right midfield balance. If we play with Vieira, De Jong and Barry in the middle then I believe fourth place will be elusive. There needs to be more creativity coming from behind the front men.
Fourth place is there for the taking, or losing, beginning with tomorrow’s trip to