Many questions have been asked of City so far this season, warranted or not, as the reigning champions expectations are at an all time high. Coming into the season with lofty expectations after a dream season, City has left some fans with more to be desired at the start of the season. Luckily, so have many other teams (i.e. Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle), but it is times like this where we need to take advantage of other teams’ shortcomings and separate from them in the table. It seems that the title race will come down to another “Battle of Manchester,” and with Man. U scoring and allowing goals at an egregious level, City will need to take care of business against the lower-tier teams, and keep a positive record against Chelsea’s if we want to keep pace with the Red Devils in the race for the title.
As it has been noted throughout the season, City has “struggled” in the final third on both sides of the field, leading to playing from behind more often than not. Chalk it up to a lack of chemistry and communication among our forever-changing back four and striker pairing, or the meticulous Mancini tweaking lineups, formations and strategy. Regardless, City has room for improvement in their overall execution, even with an EPL record of 10-6-1.
So, with the January transfer window looming, the question needs to be asked: What does City need to help improve their form for the back end of the EPL season? I have noted a few options City has in terms of transfers, loans and players already on the team. As this is my opinion, I would love to hear for you on what you believe City needs to do, or not do, to better our record at the end of the season. Note, I am aware that we are not in an “end of the world” situation, as we have kept pace with our stats from last season, it’s always fun to overreact sometimes ;).
So far this year, Dzeko has provided us with timely goals off the bench in critical situations. He has scored six goals so far this season, all of which have come in the 70th minute or later. Four of his goals have game-winners and the other two have led to dramatic draws (see what I did there?! Alliteration). Finally, he adds an element of pace, as well as, belief to City when he comes off the bench. This is most likely due to his reputation as the “Super Sub” and scoring late goals.
When he has been given a chance to start he has been a shell of the player that has come off the bench. He shows a lack of skill and touch on the ball, and has yet to record a goal this season while being in the starting eleven. With that being said, he showed early last season that he could produce goals at an alarming rate when given consistent playing time.
We all know the unlimited level of talent that the 22-year-old Italian striker possesses and that alone should scare any of his opponents. Last season in 23 appearances (14 were starts) Mario scored 13 goals and had the assist that led to the game winning goal on the final day of the 2011/2012 EPL season. He has found a father figure in Mancini and as long as he is the manager, Balotelli will do whatever he can to please him regardless if it doesn’t seem that way at first. A prime example of this has been the recent tribunal between Balotelli and City. Mario ultimately dropped his appeal with respect to Mancini, City and the supporters.
Where do I start? Because they have been quite obvious I’ll keep this section short. His main issue is his seemingly schizophrenic personality, one minute he is scoring a goal and the next minute he is lifting his shirt to reveal an undershirt reading “Why Always Me?” (Granted, I loved every second of that). So far this season he has only managed to score one goal in 13 appearances (7 starts), but that could be a result of his inconsistent participation with the team due to injury and off-field issues. That being said, maybe he can return to the form that he is capable of, granted he remains with the team for that long.
I haven’t seen much of his play other than highlights and statistics from his games with City’s EDS team and teams he was on loan with in previous seasons. Last season he signed a three-year extension with the club, which leads me to believe that what people are saying about him is true, and City see him as a future striker for the club. With more first team experience he could become a mainstay in the City’s starting/sub lineup come match day. His most recent loan stint was in 2011 with Feyenoord of the Eredivisie league, where he averaged almost a goal a game (20 goals in 23 games) and eight assists.
In mid-April Guidetti suffered an injury that held him out of competing in the Euro’s for Sweden, which could have been a great opportunity for him to show his talents to the world. He has recently returned to training with City following his recovery from his injury, so it will be worth seeing how he responds to such a long absence from competition. Numerous teams throughout Europe, most recently from the EPL’s Aston Villa and Sunderland, are targeting him for a loan stint. Because he is not getting consistently selected for a spot in the match day roster for City, a loan move is imminent to provide him valuable game experience.
Options for City to buy: Bear in mind that some of these players may not be available until the summer transfer window, but could be an option this year.
It has come out recently expressing his disappointment with Barcelona’s management of his “deserved” playing time at the club. It has been reported that City are leading the chase for the Spanish strikers services in January as a replacement for Balotelli, whose time seems to be running out, even after dropping his appeal of the two-weeks wages fine for his disciplinary record last season.
Villa’s pace, dribble skills, creativity and execution in the final third could be the piece of the puzzle that City seem to be missing when it comes to finishing their chances. Another plus is his familiarity with the midfield maestro himself, David Silva, during their time together on the Spanish national team, prior to that, Valencia.
On the down side, Villa hasn’t been the same since he suffered a broken leg months before the Euro’s this summer. Finally, questions have been asked about how much longer Villa has as an influential footballer with a competitive squad.
Probably the most sought after striker in all of football across the globe since he has become unsettle at his current club AAtletico Madrid has been Falcao. He has been linked to numerous teams, including Real Madrid, Chelsea and Man. City. It seems unlikely that City will pick him up on the transfer market as Chelsea seem to be the squad hungrier for a striker to challenge Torres and make the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow situation seem childish. Whether it’s in January or this summer I don’t see Falcao in a City uniform, unless you have him on your Fifa squad, but crazier things have happened in sports (Josh Hamilton anyone?).
Ronaldo and Coentrao?
I know, Ronaldo is completely out of the question, but his named has been linked with City and it draws your attention, so I put it in here.
Coentrao on the other hand seems to be the more likely acquisition for City, if they were to pursue his services. He would be the correct answer for the “which one doesn’t belong” question on a test about the players in this post. Anyway, Coentrao is a very experience left back could provide City the competition needed to push Gael Clichy’s performance to new heights. Coentrao has a very impressive resume, highlighted by his time with Real Madrid and Portugal. Like Maicon, Coentrao can be a “veteran” voice to help build communication among the City back four, which they have lacked at time this season.
Consequently, Coentrao being brought in by the club could lead to more confusion to our back four, as no one has played along side him before. Also, Coentrao has had a bit of a spell on the sideline with a couple leg injuries during this season. Most recently, he suffered a thigh muscle injury in Real’s Champions League group match against Ajax, and was out for a month earlier this season with a groin injury.
Any other options I have failed to name, please feel free to add any with comments.