But wait. Isn't this the club where Joe Royle once spoke of an illness called Cityitis? City never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, right? And yes, they still have to play United followed by Arsenal away, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at home and West Ham United away, so there is the potential for a late twist. Except April is no longer a time when City's supporters would get together, bristle with indignity, and complain bitterly about the way their team has performed over the past nine months.
This is why Carlos Tevez's assertion this week that the players were "not happy" with Roberto Mancini's training schedule felt so incongruous. Tevez was irked by Mancini's habit of organising double sessions, but this happens no more than once or twice a week. And, besides, whatever Mancini is doing seems to be working. The team look more organised, particularly in defence, where they have become notably less vulnerable to set pieces since the introduction of zonal marking. Of the 51 goals conceded this season, 29 came under Hughes in 21 games, with 22 in Mancini's 22 games.
Statistics like that mean the chief executive, Garry Cook, and the money men in Abu Dhabi can be forgiven for thinking that the Italian has justified his appointment so far. The players, by and large, sympathised with Hughes but, gradually, Mancini has broken down any friction that existed. He dealt swiftly and efficiently with the problem that was Robinho and what we are seeing now is an authentic football man taking a team and moulding them into his own personality.
It's a Friday afternoon so this is another link you should definitely follow up on; it's a really brilliant article.