This was one of the most dramatic months I can remember in my liftetime as a City fan. It started with two of the very best performances under Mark Hughes, with very impressive home victories over Arsenal Reserves and Chelsea - which was described as a possible Mark Robins moment for his management of the club. Then we went to Bolton and played out a 3-3 draw, typical of our season, full of defensive errors at both ends. The next match was the worst City performance of the season, losing pathetically at White Hart Lane 3-0. The decision was made to sack Mark Hughes and replace him with Roberto Mancini, but nothing was announced before another high-scoring game - a 4-3 defeat of Sunderland at Eastlands. The new manager came in and ground out two important wins against average opposition: 2-0 against Stoke at home, and 3-0 at Molineux. All told it was seven games, seventeen scored, ten conceded, one managerial change and we're only one goal behind Aston Villa.
Arsenal Reserves (h) 3-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Chelsea (h) 2-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax, more reax)
Bolton Wanderers (a) 3-3 (thoughts, reax, more reax)
Tottenham Hotspur (a) 0-3 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Sunderland (h) 4-3 (thoughts)
Stoke City (h) 2-0 (thoughts, reax, more reax)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (a) 3-0 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Player of the Month
The last two months I've been pretty loath to give out this award, after some rather insipid performances. Not this time - because there's such a clear and deserving winner. I'm not even going to bother with honourable mentions; it's all about Carlos Tévez. This month he has been exceptional, scoring eight goals in our seven games - some of them brilliant, most of them crucial - as well as impressing with his endless running and hassling, supporting his teammates, and in the last two games leading the line through the middle.
The best was probably his second against Bolton - surging through defenders before hitting it with his left foot into the far bottom corner. He scored a very similar goal at Molineux - again, his second and City's third in the game. His next best was against Arsenal, robbing Tomáš Rosický and hitting it into the far top corner. His fourth best goal saw the humiliation of another Czech international at Eastlands - this time Petr Čech who failed to pick up Tévez's freekick. In fifth place was his karate kick against Stoke, with his penalty against Sunderland in sixth and the two deflected goals - his first at the Reebok and his first at Molineux in seventh and eighth. So it's a pretty good record. Add to the only half-decent performance at White Hart Lane and it's a very impressive record.
I must admit to being sceptical in his first few months at City. Like Emmanuel Adebayor, I worried that his move to City was a means to embarrass his former club; and getting revenge on his former employers was more important than our own success. While Adebayor has - and I am not pleased that this is true - proved me right, Tévez has proved me wrong. Mark Hughes had always said that having missed pre-season with injury, that Tévez would take a while to get going this season. I thought that he was covering for his big money signing, but it turns out that he was right.
Tévez is probably playing his best football since his first season at United, and we are very lucky to have him. When he was misfiring earlier this season, it was common for writers to say that Ferguson was astute enough to know that Carlitos was only a squad player, and that Hughes had been sucked in and paid too much. True enough, maybe. But a player is always going to have a different value to Manchester United as they will to Manchester City - as Hughes pointed out. And Tévez is, simply put, one of our best players. It is a shame for Mark Hughes that Tévez's best form coincided with the last games of his reign at City. It might take Roberto Mancini to prove Hughes' investment was a wise one. But if Tévez's form continues he will be the leading man for the new era at City.
Performance of the Month
Nigel de Jong against Chelsea - He shut down the Lampard/Ballack/Essien midfield with his best ever performance in blue. Another Hughes buy who will already have impressed Mancini, and will be crucial to his new era.
Goal of the Month
Lots of contenders but I'm going for SWP against Arsenal - put through down the right, he cut inside the left back and smashed the ball into the roof of the net from twenty yards. It was a replica of the fourth in the 4-1 derby win five years ago, but it meant even more. Honourable mentions for Carlitos' second at the Reebok and Garrido's free-kick at Molineux.