Manchester City begins quest to build dynasty | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerManchester City begins quest to build dynasty

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | 01:07 AM

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Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League title on Sunday.  (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League title on Sunday. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Winning the title is one thing. Building a dynasty is quite another. Manchester City will begin next season in the unfamiliar position of championship favourites. The pressure will be on from the get-go and they will be the team everyone else wants to beat.
He could have been five minutes from being fired. He was given every advantage so coming up short might not have been an option. Now he's part of history and we'll never know.
 
It is debatable whether Roberto Mancini would have kept his job had Manchester City failed to become Champions of England. The club's uber-rich owners demand a return on investment and despite delivering the team's first major trophy in more than 40 years, the Italian manager had only the 2011 FA Cup to show for his tactics and their money.
 
Now he has landed the big prize. In the space of two and half years Mancini has led City to the Promised Land. True, it has taken 44 years for the Blues to return to the summit of the English game but it is also true for the vast majority of the intervening seasons, City has simply not been a contender.
 
Nor was Chelsea before the money started rolling in in vast sums. The cynics will claim City 'bought' the Championship. They are right of course. Without top class players, attracted by a leading European coach and huge financial contracts, City would be what they have been for much of their history -- a biggish club with wonderfully loyal supporters, forever living in the shadow of Manchester United.
 
The noisy neighbours have finally got something to shout about. Winning the EPL title is a wonderful achievement. Winning it at the expense of their bitter rivals is the heavenly icing on the cake. In the end it all came down to goal difference. City's was 8 better than United's and 6 of those goals came courtesy of City's home and away victories over Sir Alex Ferguson's team.
 
Only once in the last 10 years has a champion scored more. Chelsea's 2010 title winners rattled in a record 103 goals but City's 93 -- including that remarkable 6-1 score line at Old Trafford -- is well ahead of the average total. Sixteen different City players found the net over the season but one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
 
Fittingly, Sergio Aguero scored the goal that sealed the deal. He has taken to the English game like a duck to water. The teenager, who wowed Canada at the 2007 U20 World Cup, is all grown up and fulfilling all that early promise. Aguero didn't let the big price tag weigh him down -- he just went out and did what comes naturally.
 
While City's other strikers were making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Aguero proved, at the tender age of 23, that he's pretty much the finished article. Only EPL Player of the Year, Robin van Persie and England's finest centre forward, Wayne Rooney hit the target with more regularity.
 
The Argentine striker, with a legendary father-in-law, benefitted from a strong supporting cast. Aguero apart, David Silva was perhaps City's most consistent performer, Yaya Toure was a tour de force in midfield, Vincent Company led by example from the back and Joe Hart emerged as England's number one goalkeeper in time for the European Championships.
 
Mancini's men stumbled over the finishing line in spite of unnecessary distractions. The Carlos Tevez saga dragged on for months but the City boss cleverly brought him back in time to put him in the shop window. Mancini may have forgiven but he certainly hasn't forgotten.
 
Mario Balotelli's immaturity must have driven his manager round the bend. Mancini, who gave him his break at Inter Milan, must decide whether to persevere with a kid who has immense talent but has shown few signs of growing up. At least Balotelli now has an excuse to let off some more fireworks -- preferably not from his bathroom.
 
The price of success is expectation. The bar has been raised but whether the balance of power has shifted remains to be seen.
 
As English champions, Manchester City not only has the financial muscle but also, crucially, the status to build from a position of strength. City can now compete on equal terms for the world's best players, as long as they're not too bothered by the local weather.
 
Winning the title is one thing. Building a dynasty is quite another. City will begin next season in the unfamiliar position of championship favourites. The pressure will be on from the get-go and they will be the team everyone else wants to beat. Mancini will need strong characters to have a chance of defending the title but who knows what he'll be working with when his stable of stars return fatigued by the extra effort and emotion of Euro2012?
 
That of course is a discussion for another day. What we know for sure is that, with perfect timing, the English Premier League crowned its 20th anniversary with the most dramatic conclusion since its foundation.
 
Malcolm Allison didn't live to see history repeat itself. In 1968 he was an integral part of the club's management team as City also pipped United on the season's final day. Wherever he is, Big Mal will be tipping his fedora and lighting another cigar.

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