The large crashing sound that you hear is the result of a huge number of fans jumping off the bandwagon the week after the Chelsea victory had them clambering aboard. Ironic really because I thought the battling draw against Bolton, specifically coming back after Bellamy was sent off, was everything that is right about the Mark Hughes regime. No, I haven't suddenly turned into a Hughes apologist. I've said time and again that when appropriate I will compliment and this was the case this weekend.
Strange couple of weeks for me personally and for a reason beyond my control I ended up missing the second half of the Arsenal game and all of the Chelsea encounter. In going back and reading the various reports, particularly the Arsenal Liquid Cup victory I wondered whether the assembled media masses saw the same game as I. For lost in the ultimate euphoria of the victory was a first half performance that was everything that is wrong about City under Hughes. Time and again Bellamy and Ireland would make runs only to react in frustration when the ball that should have been played wasn't.
City haven't solved this problem. However the team was good enough to get by without it as they ultimately overran the Arsenal youngsters and then staged a stirring victory over Chelsea. The flaw remains, as we saw in the Bolton game.
Carlos Tevez is receiving all kinds of praise for his recent performances and certainly the hustle has been there as have the goals. But watch Tevez, focus on him during a game and you will see a player who is apparently incapable of spotting the run of a team mate into space. The argument will be made that as he is scoring goals I am just being negative, but the point is to a greater team need. If as a player you consistently make the correct run, as Bellamy and Ireland do, and the ball is not forth coming then the natural reaction is to start to make less of those runs. Ultimately the team as a whole plays worse as it becomes more individualistic rather than team focused.
Yes, I go on about Elano and have ever since he left. But a player of the Brazilian's vision and passing allows a Tevez or similar player to maximize their potential and not negatively impact those around them.
So it's all doom and gloom, right? Well, no. In fact quite the contrary. My frustration is that I can see how close City are to being positively lethal. The players that Hughes has bought in midfield and attack are all performing well, exceptionally so in the case of de Jong. There is a good team spirit at the club and it is here that you can see the policy of buying established successful Premier League stars coming to the fore. The team is close, very close to being something special.
So which is it? Exceptionally good or very bad? The answer is neither. I understand the plan and what the manager is trying to do. City still have one final piece that is needed to make the first team complete. Certainly there's a discussion, for another day, about squad building and issues around that. But in the short term January could bring the remaining puzzle piece.