Even the most optimistic of City fans must now think any chance of a late rally for the title is dead. Sure, the club have history when it comes to clawing back points during the season run in, but a completely uninspiring 0-0 draw against relegation threatened Norwich summed up pretty much everything that is wrong with this current side. City have often been found to have no plan B in recent times, and this was further proof of that, when they did little to break down a side who have not won in the league since the beginning of January.
Pellegrini has divided opinion of late, some feeling he was hard done by in being told he was departing in the summer half way through the season, while others will point to the utterly embarrassing form against the top 8 in the league as for the very reason he is going. But both camps were left bemused when Wilfred Bony was handed another start, after his largely ineffective performance against Aston Villa last week, while the young lively Iheanacho, who scored against Norwich back in January when City won 3-0 in the FA Cup, was again left on the bench. The absence of Yaya Touré, again out with a heel problem, was always going to be a big miss although City still fielded a team more than capable of winning this game.
It was another match where City dominated possession, yet created very little as a result. Norwich keeper John Ruddy was largely pedestrian in the first half, only really being tested a few times by Argentine forward Sergio Agüero, while Bony posed no threat. At the other end, Joe Hart could do nothing when beaten by a speculative effort from Patrick Bamford, the crossbar denying the youngster a great goal in his first start for the Canaries. The second half continued in much the same vein, City dominating play but almost getting caught out on the break. It was no surprise when Bony was replaced by Sterling, the former Swansea striker again offering very little. The change did little to alter the tide of the game, however, and large chunks of the second 45 saw City guilty of overplaying when getting a shot away would have been the better option. The laboured way in which they passed the ball round made it easy for Norwich to be able to re-group and get men behind the ball, a task they stuck to all game and carried out with perfection. At the other end, Norwich also had another great chance to steal all 3 points, but Dorrans was guilty of dragging his shot wide of the mark. City keeper Joe Hart summed it up perfectly after the game, when remarking that both he and fellow Number One John Ruddy could have been given the afternoon off.
Ultimately, a point is a great result for Norwich, and will give them some belief going into the relegation run-in, while City must now accept there is a real risk of them failing to secure the top 4 and Champion’s League football before the arrival of Guardiola. Pellegrini pointed to City needing to win 9 of their remaining games to be in with a shout of top spot, but with only 9 remaining, including the always fiery Manchester derby next weekend, surely the targets now need to be altered to ensure top 4 is priority. Next up for City is the 2nd leg of the Champion’s League last 16, as they welcome Dynamo Kiev to the Etihad. With a commanding 3-1 lead it’s hard to see them failing to go through, but fans will more importantly be hoping to see a convincing performance and a return to the sort of form a team of this sort of ability should be showing week in week out going into next weekend’s game.Share this: