Goal crazy Man City win over sceptics, but ruin the title race
Dazzling displays make it easier to accept City's financial muscle as they ease towards the title
MANCHESTER CITY may be a team built on the largesse of a Middle Eastern billionaire, but the brand of football they are peddling this season has won over many of their critics.
Manuel Pellegrini's side have scored well over 100 goals already this term and are playing with such verve that many believe they could be on for an unprecedented quadruple of League Cup, FA Cup, League and Champions League.
City took over at the summit of the Premier League with a 5-1 demolition of Spurs last night, their eighth league win in a row, and their style of play makes it so much easier to overlook allegations that they have bought their success, says Matt Dickinson in The Times.
"Dazzling, attacking football does not change that £233.1m salary bill, and Financial Fair Play rules have no test of aesthetics, but at least it feels like money lavished for all our enjoyment when we see David Silva spin on the ball as though ballet has come to White Hart Lane and Sergio Aguero shred a defence as if he can score whenever he wants."
Even long-term sceptics like Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph have been won over by City this season. He admits that when City were plucked from obscurity by the Abu Dhabi royal family 2008 he was jealous that it hadn't been his club - Leyton Orient. "Where there is jealousy, there is envy, and where there is envy there is, eventually, bitterness and resentment," he writes.
"But, for the first time I do not resent them for their good fortune. For the first time in years I can appreciate that City are a joy to watch and a credit to the Premier League."
It's the swagger that City now posses that impresses Amy Lawrence of The Guardian. "The new regime has added a smoothness, a silkiness, an absolute sense of control. If they could bottle this purring confidence, this certainty in the way they do things, a spray of that elixir would do wonders for most of us on an anxious day."
The problem is that they may be too good. "What many felt would be the closest title race in years may soon turn into a procession," says Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail.
Arsenal were the early season pacesetters, but they have now been caught. Chelsea are still in the mix but City are out in front and "if they have a kick to unleash down the final straight, the contest is over".
It does look done and dusted, agrees Phil McNulty of the BBC. "Arsenal, Chelsea and perhaps even Liverpool may still hold title aspirations but the reality is that City have the best team, the best squad and a confidence level that is hitting the roof. It is a simple equation and the final calculation should see the title return to Etihad Stadium. Can there now be any other realistic outcome?"