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Just what has happened to Manchester City?

Although referee Rob Styles did his level best to make sure Birmingham City landed the three points on Saturday, Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has refused to blame the official too much for his team’s defeat. Indeed, it’s been a poor 2008 for the blue half of Manchester (with the exception of the derby win at Old Trafford). The Citizens have slipped from the Champions League places, out of the UEFA Cup places and even face the possibility of a bottom-half finish.

Although this would still rank as an improvement on last season under Stuart Pearce, where the team were fighting relegation and playing soulless football, it must still be demoralising for City fans, especially after the acquisition of Benjani was thought to have been the answer to their goalscoring problems. The official Man City website relays Sven’s disappointment.

“But before we blame the referee, we should blame ourselves. We can’t perform like this if we are Manchester City.

“I don’t know how many passes we missed without being pressed. We didn’t hold the ball in the first half and it’s impossible to concede two goals as we did.

“I am frustrated because we are talking and dreaming about Europe and I think we are losing our confidence.

“I am very, very disappointed because I think you have to take at least a point in a game like this, but we didn’t.”

Although their home form has dipped recently, it’s on the road where Sven’s men have been lacklustre and yesterday was a typical example. Were they lacking in motivation? It certainly appeared that many of them had smiles on their faces throughout the match. It’s also clear that they rely heavily on the central defensive partnership of Richard Dunne and Micah Richards, with the latter issing throughout the month of March.

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