A second home defeat in three days for Manchester City has given the rest of the Premier League, particularly Tottenham, some hope. Are the Eastlands rabble in crisis? Compared to their flying start to the season, you could say yes. But using a shred of good sense and perspective the answer would have to be a resounding no.
In the post-match inquest, Mancini looked rather flustered and animated when faced with the glare of BBC cameras. Perhaps he is trying to live up to higher boardroom expectations than my own expectations of his side. I am not sure any club that is three points clear of the pack in January, having not won a title since 1968, should be under too much pressure.
'But they spent all that money' the naysayers will cry. Well the last time I checked, money didn't guarantee success, it doesn't guarantee luck, and it certainly doesn't guarantee a tight-knit squad of players willing to walk on coals for each other. If anything, Mancini should have had the guts to make a few less big-money marquee signings and more high-energy players that could punch above their weight. I'm thinking along the lines of Scott Parker. Of course, having learnt from his bench-warming experiences at Chelsea that would be a terrible career move for him and he would always have been back-up to the immovable Yaya Toure, but a couple more back-up characters of his ilk, particularly in defence would have seen Man City turn in a more competitive display than they did against Liverpool. Instead, the loss of Silva, Kompany and the Toures turned them into a soulless husk of a side.
The lack of atmosphere at Eastlands can hardly have helped. I know its only the Carling Cup but if you've spent the money to take your place in the stands then a few upbeat chants to try and get the team moving surely can't be too much to ask. In turn, Liverpool had a game plan that worked to perfection. With Andy Carroll the lone striker upfront they were never going to outscore City in an open free-flowing game. So they kept things tight, correctly guessed that City's slow buildup would play into their hands, and they take a crucial advantage back to Anfield.
In a week of Cup comebacks, Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes made winning (but not entirely successful in Scholes' case) returns to their once adoring fanbases. Henry rolled back the years to send Arsenal through to round four with a splendid finish.
Paul Scholes was a strange one. Having not seen the match live, or its build-up, I was stunned to hear a work colleague later talking about the ginger maestro being at fault for the second City goal. 'That's a bit harsh', I thought. 'He's only a coach.' As it turns out, until the end of the season he is not only a coach. As a money-saving favour to Fergie and the Glazers, this should somewhat abate the calls for Wesley Sneijder to be brought to Old Trafford dead or alive, at least until the summer.
Speaking of rumoured transfers that will probably wait until the summer, Newcastle's Demba Ba is a busy man. Not only is he trying to fire Senegal to African Nations glory, he is the current subject of a frenzied auction, with the asking price being whatever figure Harry Redknapp dreams up next. Honestly, does the Spurs manager have nothing better to do? As his outspoken approaches for the likes of Cahill and Samba have since proven, no he does not.
As for Ba himself, well he seems happy enough until the summer, despite his professed interest in a potential move to PSG. Mike Ashley (I won't pretend Pardew has anything to do with contracts or transfers) will have to get his skates on to get a new contract tied up. Even if this only delays a transfer by six months, the asking price would at least be ramped up to one more reflecting of his ability.
And that my friends, is that.