A Quarter-Term Report on Manchester City

Tim OscroftContributor INovember 11, 2013

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester City at the Stadium of Light on November 10, 2013 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

As yet another international break peeks over the horizon, it's a good time to assess Manchester City's season so far under Manuel Pellegrini.

And the phrase that springs to mind is one many of us heard at school:

"Could do better."

On the Premier League front, it really has been a tale of two Cities. At home, the Blues have swept all before them, but the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of their season so far was summed up by the 1-0 defeat by Sunderland on 10 November. 

Simply put, 15 points from 15 at Etihad Stadium is title-winning form, but four from a possible 18 on the road is undermining hopes of regaining the Premier League crown. 

So what's with the schizophrenic Citizens?

The absences of Vincent Kompany have not helped, although it's worth recalling the talismanic skipper was present and correct for the home horror show that was the 3-1 defeat by Bayern Munich.

It also looks like, for all the millions spent, the "B list" squad members don't match up to the "A list". Fernandinho has started to look the part, but Javi Garcia has struggled and does not inspire confidence when his name is on the team sheet.

But it's not been all bad, far from it in fact. The 4-1 derby win was a magnificent performance and seemed to herald a sweep to the top of the table.

Of course, we're just 11 games in and the Blues may hit those giddy heights once again.

Sergio Aguero is now being mentioned in the same breath as some of the best in Europe and has relished the chance to shine now that those high-maintenance former team-mates Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez have left the club.

Aguero and Negredo have become a formidable attacking partnership.
Aguero and Negredo have become a formidable attacking partnership.Warren Little/Getty Images

His partnership with Alvaro Negredo has clicked straight away, and the bustling Spain striker, dubbed "the Beast", has joined an illustrious list of cult heroes for Blues as The Independent has noted.

What else is good? Samir Nasri has been outstanding and is in the best form of his time at City.

In Europe, it is mission accomplished in terms of qualification secured, even with that humiliation by Bayern taken into account. But if Sunderland can get the better of City, what will some of the European sides lurking in the last 16 of the Champions League do to Pellegrini's side?

The City that turned up against United could do some damage in Europe, but the version that failed on Wearside will struggle. 

Pellegrini needs to settle on a first-choice 11, even though he admitted on the club's official website that squad rotation is his thing, he needs Kompany back and other injuries—Fernandinho, David Silva—to clear up.

So, getting back to the school theme, it's a B for City so far.