The only thing more painful for Manchester City fans than watching Tottenham turn their White Hart Lane clash around to win 3-1 on Sunday would have been to see ‘the one that got away’, Robin van Persie, win Manchester United the Premier League title on Monday.
However, as they were so often reminded after “Agueroooooooooo!”’s winner last year, the sign of a great team is how you respond to disappointment, and United responded emphatically.
Now it’s City’s turn, and although the only thing they have to play for in the immediate future is second place, Mancini will be adamant that his side are professional in their season’s end, starting with the visit of West Ham to the Etihad on Saturday.
It will be far from a simple task though as Sam Allardyce has guided his men to a run of results that has seen them ease away from any relegation fears Hammers fans may have been experiencing.
The London side are unbeaten in five, with draws against Liverpool, Southampton and United sandwiched by wins over West Brom and Wigan.
City struggled to a 1-0 win over Wigan in their last home game and the disappointment they have suffered this week could arguably lead to complacency, so you could try to take advantage by backing the Hammers at fairly big odds of 21/2.
Their previous meeting this season was a dour scoreless draw at Upton Park in November and if you think they won’t be separated again, then odds of 9/2 are on offer on the stalemate.
However, I personally believe that the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero will be out to prove a point, meaning that West Ham should probably be thankful if they escape with a narrow loss to their name.
The fact that Allardyce’s team is safe from the drop could lead to them not throwing their bodies on the line in a way they might have done earlier in the season, and it often takes a Herculean defensive effort for teams to leave the Etihad with anything other than a smacked backside.
City have won 12 of their 16 home games in the league this season, losing only once, to the only team above them in the table.
West Ham have struggled away from home, with ten losses from 17 trips and only three victories.
Despite their undoubted disappointment, a big reason why City have struggled to defend their title this season has been the added pressure that comes with being champions.
Well, that pressure is now off, so they can play with the sort of freedom that saw them give many teams an absolute pasting last season and despite their short odds of 1/4, I can’t justify backing any other outcome.
Should you fancy something a little more adventurous, then my more specific prediction would be 3-0 to the home side, which comes in at 7/1 and includes the offer of your money back if both teams score in the second half.
If you agree, then you can back a 3-0 City win with the free £20 bet you receive for opening a bwin account today to give yourself a chance at £160 – just slightly less than City are likely to spend this summer.
Follow David on Twitter @whichdave