LAKY at the back, unconvincing in midfifififififififield, and lacking threat in front of goal… and yet City picked up another three points!
When a team leading the league wins a game like this, as Chelsea have done several times recently, we get told that this is what champions do – grind out results when they have not played well.
But at themoment the result is not quite enough for City – their fans are seeking reassurance, wanting to know that their title- winning teamof last season is not crumbling into dust, and needs only reinforcement rather than re- building this summer.
ThThThThThThThThThThThThThThThThey drew little comfort fromthis victory, secured through a goalkeeping howler fromBrad Guzan to present Sergio Aguero with an easy opener, from Aleks Kolarov’s precision free- kick and Fernandinho’s late acrobatics.
ThThThThThThThThe fact that Villa – no great shakes despite their fightback and FA Cup fififififififififinal place – were able to haul their way back into the game, tells you something about City.
They remain fragile in terms of confifififififififififififidence, as Villa showed by fifififififififighting their way back into the game from2- 0 down.
ThThThThThThThThThis sounds like too much doom and gloom after a run of 11 wins and just one defeat from their last 14 home league games, but manager Manuel Pellegrini was also less than happy with the performance of his team.
Perhaps he also is looking for the green shoots of recovery in the ashes of a season that promised so much but which has gone up in flflflflflflflames since they shared top spot in the league with Chelsea on New Year’s Day
Maybe the most heartening aspect of this game was that City were again handed a big slice of luck, with Guzan’s mistake presenting Aguero with a simple opener.
And TimSherwood had a valid point when he complained that Christian Benteke was wrongly flflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflagged offffffffffffffffffffside before he was brought down by Joe Hart, shortly before City went up the other end and scored.
ThThThThThThThThThThThere was plenty at stake in this game but for long spells, you would not have thought so, as City meandered their way through the 90 minutes, only occasionally injecting the vim and verve for which they have become known in recent years.
In the end they were glad for a superbly taken Fernandinho goal to win the game. He replaced hamstring victim Yaya Toure at half- time and is set to resume his partnership with his pal Fernando at White Hart Lane next week in a crunch game.
A win in that one would secure City’s top four place and with home games against QPR and Southampton sandwiching a trip to Swansea, they should be favourites with United and Arsenal still having to face each other.
But a win at Spurs, despite the fact they have also looked like a team running out of steam, is far froma certainty unless City can raise their game.