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Published on February 23rd, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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A valuable, hard earned win, takes City to the Crossroads of their season

It had all been looking so easy for so long, that it’s hardly surprising that opinions are polarised, even among City fans, when there’s a wobble or two. There are those who’s glass is always half full, those who say “keep calm and #believe. City can win in Barcelona and still win the quadruple”.

There are others who are suggesting there are players in the team that are not good enough. Someone texted the BBC Radio Manchester phone in, after the defeat by Barcelona, saying that Demichelis should be called “Demick-chelis”; harsh!

During the 1-0 win against Stoke, Edin Dzeko missed an open goal and then kicked the post in frustration. On another day, fans might have ignored the miss, as it might not have been so potentially costly, and the incident with the upright might have been described as “showing he cared” whereas, amid unsubstantiated rumours that he might want to leave in the summer, suddenly there are some City fans apparently saying good riddance!

It’s amazing how quickly the mood at a football club, among their supporters, can change, and yet as I write this blog, City lie three points off the top of the Premier League, with a game in hand and superior goal difference, in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, awaiting a trip to Barcelona in the last sixteen of the Champions League, and preparing for a trip to Wembley, potentially just ninety minutes from lifting the first silverware of the season.

What is true, is that the Blues are now stood at the crossroads of the season.

Coming soon is a run of away games at Wembley, Barcelona ,United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton that will define this season, and a performance similar to the one against Stoke, will not be good enough in those games.

Hopefully Sergio Aguero’s imminent return will see him play, without issues, in all those key games, and he’s definitely been missed, but surely City haven’t become a one man team.

Three goals in the last five games, after the Blues were ripping up the goal-scoring records in previous weeks, is a slight concern.

My point is that you find out more about your players, the manager, and yes the fans too, when things are going against you, anyone can support the team, employ the right tactics or play with a smile on your face when things are running smoothly and the goals are flying in.

Now is the time for Pellegrini, Dzeko and that texter, who had a go at Demichelis, (just to use three examples) to step up to the mark, like at least a couple of the players did against Stoke.

Yaya Toure is a person I’d want “alongside me in the trenches” when the going got tough. He might not be the type who makes the brews or polishes his boots every day (metaphorically speaking) but continuing the theme, he’s the inspirational sergeant who leads the troops over the top and takes out the enemy gun turret.

More literally, as a footballer, he’s always the one who delivers when needed, like at Newcastle 2012, Wembley 2011 and against Stoke 2014. Having drawn 0-0 at Norwich, following the home defeat by Chelsea, City couldn’t have afforded to have done the same against Stoke, not just because of the much needed three points, but psychologically.

Vincent Kompany is another of those huge players, with big personalities as well as great ability, who looked good against Stoke, as usual.

Here’s some of what he said to me after the game, “I’m in the prime of my career, every performance where you’re a little bit below [par] or every trophy you miss out on, you’re never going to get a second chance in. I’m very demanding with myself. We all make mistakes, it’s how you react and in that respect I’ve improved a lot.”

As far as the upcoming League Cup Final is concerned, “the defeat to Wigan in last year’s FA Cup Final, in some ways, was the best thing that could have happened, it’s given me even more hunger and makes you realise how precious winning is to everyone.”

Those are the words of the Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, the leader of the team, one of those who will keep going through this blip, and go in the right direction at the upcoming crossroads to City’s season.

– Ian Cheeseman

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