City were always going to get beat in one of these finals sooner or later, but the way in which we surrendered against Wigan at Wembley on Saturday, losing 1-0 in the FA Cup Final, only left me with a feeling of bewilderment.
This defeat was the icing on the cake of City’s enigmatic season, a season that promised so much but has now delivered nothing but failure and – it seems – discontent between the club’s management and administration staff.
Preparation for the final was hardly ideal with rumours of Roberto Mancini’s dismissal and his imminent replacement with Manuel Pellegrini. Mancini is now gone and that development will be addressed another day, but how much impact did this uncertainty have on City’s lethargic performance?
Players are meant to be professionals these days, but to what extent they could have insulated themselves from the rumours swirling around their boss? It cannot have helped.
What was not in doubt was City’s lacklustre display. We laboured, we created chances, with a bit more luck in the first half we would have been 1-0 to the good.
But the chances we did have always seemed against the run of play. We were dominated by Wigan for large parts of the game, overrun in midfield, appeared tired throughout the team and of course, as we always have this season, lacking the goal scoring touch upfront.
And then there was the lack of tempo. We have had a lot of possession this season, but when we win the ball back we have been far too ponderous. We gave Wigan too much time to regroup. We have some of the best passers in England, but sometimes we are not direct enough, not ruthless enough, too intricate.
It is the end of the season and everyone is going to be tired. This is when it comes down to motivation and determination – which are within both Mancini’s sphere and the sphere of the leading players in the squad – our leaders on the field. Mancini indicated the players did not run enough, but it is too difficult to say why they did not run, whether because they did not want to go the extra mile for Mancini, whether they had been out thought tactically, or whether they simply did not have the legs.
Then again, this was an FA Cup Final. At the very least, the players should have wanted to win it for themselves and for the fans, but we just did not turn up.
Full credit to Wigan, a very good performance that kept the romance of the cup intact. They deserved the FA Cup and I hope they stay in the Premier League.
For City though, it is just another reminder of what might have been, and the unfulfilled potential that continues to vex the fans and board alike.