LET down by the officials, and some of their own players, City’s vague title hopes were dealt the death blow at Selhurst Park on Monday.
Indeed, if this goes on much longer, they will be involved in a struggle to make the cut for the Champions League – and that would surely sound the parting bell for manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Last year south London was a place of joy and renewed hope for the Blues as they pulled off a 2-0 win that fired them back into the title race.
This time it spoke of decay and disgruntlement, as the Blues failed to turn their dominance into goals – a recurring theme this season.
When it happens once or twice, it can be excused, as all teams have bad luck in front of goal, off days when the final ball goes astray or the ball deflects the wrong side of the post. And it can happen that the officials give terrible decisions – and THREE times ref Mike Oliver and his team got it terribly wrong.
Palace’s opening goal was offside TWICE but the linesman failed to spot either offence, and in the second half the official failed to spot a clear handball committed by Glenn Murray as City mounted a desperate attempt to get back into the game.
By the time Yaya Toure thumped in a goal to make it 2-1, you still felt this would be beyond City as tenacious Palace fought tooth and nail.
The defeat leaves City languishing in fourth place and facing a character-testing trip to Old Trafford on Sunday.
And spare a thought for the City fans, who are having some shoddy luck lately, not least the intrepid souls who braved the Bank Holiday traffic to make the horrendous journey to south London for this fixture, courtesy of the unthinking top brass at Sky and the Premier League.
Many of them were still crawling through the Lon- don jams as their team went behind in the first half – a goal that was offffffside not once, but TWICE.
To be fair to the errant linesman, he had hardly been involved in the first half, with the play contained almost exclusively in the Palace half.
But when the ball was lifted to Joe Ledley on the edge of the 18-yard box in the 34th minute, he headed on into the path of Scott Dann, who had strayed marginally offffffside.
It was a tough shout for the linesman, looking across a line of players all scrambling towards goal.
But Dann’s shot was beaten out by Joe Hart, straight to the feet of Murray – who was in a clearer offside position, and tucked it into the goal.
There is nothing you can do when the officials get it wrong other than roll up your sleeves and try to right the injustice.
And it WAS an injustice as City, despite not hitting top gear, were utterly on top in a one-sided 45 minutes.
Palace had forged the first chance, wildly missed by Wilfried Zaha, but City came back strongly, and things usually look prom- ising for the Blues when David Silva is seeing a lot of the ball – he was dancing around the edges of the Palace box with intent.
But the Spaniard saw his shot deflect off the body of the sprawling Julian Speroni and arc over the bar from City’s best chance, and the