The ‘Why always me?’ jokes are starting to wear thin now but from the latest Mario Balotelli escapade to dealing with Carlos Tevez, Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City continue to drive on towards a first title in 44 years.
A 14th straight home win of the season was chalked off and for all the talk of United’s visit to the Etihad Stadium in the third last match of the season, it would be a remarkable achievement for Alex Ferguson’s men to overhaul their neighbours.
The real luxury for Mancini is that City are so good that the scale of the egos and pay-packets simply no longer matter and all the talk of team spirit has been buried by a bunch of ruthless winners.
On some of those stormy days, when Mancini struggled to grasp the language, he looked genuinely ruffled at the disruption being caused by the likes of Tevez, Robinho and Craig Bellamy. But no longer.
There is just too much weight and momentum for the ripples to even affect City’s course.
Balotelli will be fined two weeks’ wages for being pictured coming out of a Liverpool strip club 36 hours before the Bolton game but it suited Mancini, despite his obvious anger, to play the striker and deal with the situation afterwards.
No longer do such incidents become crises at City and whether a breaking point will come for Balotelli, at the moment it just does not matter.
Not that Mancini, who suggested he wants his striker to get married and said that he would “kick his arse twice” has a clue about what will finally make Balotelli, 21, grow up.
“I don’t know this. I think that he only needs time because when you’re young you can make some mistakes and after that the moment will arrive when you can understand,” Mancini said.
City moved in front when Gael Clichy’s drive flew in off Gretar Steinsson midway through the opening period and Balotelli added the second 46 minutes later, stabbing in at the near post after impressive work by Adam Johnson.
With no Sergio Aguero or David Silva, neither Balotelli nor Samir Nasri were at their best in attack but City are just so powerful at the back and the real energy and quality comes from the central area.
And Saturday was another signal that Mancini has struck gold with David Pizarro, a 32-year-old Chilean midfielder who makes Claude Makelele look like Paul O’Connell.
Pizarro, 32, joined on loan for the rest of the season from Roma in January and looks able to provide the kind of cameos that Mancini had hoped Owen Hargreaves would provide as Patrick Vieira’s replacement.
But yet again it was Yaya Toure who produced the most blistering performance.
“I played against Yaya when he was with Barcelona and I was at Arsenal,” Clichy said. “He wasn’t the main player because they had [Lionel] Messi, Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta and everything.
“You can see that here he is a different player, and a big one for us, but it’s not just about Yaya, this team. Everyone is doing the job the manager is asking.”
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