Remember the good old days? A young center-half blessed with incredible pace and athleticism. Micah was excellent in the air and had amazing recovery ability, which at times hid a naivety in his reading of the game.
It's easy to forget just how bright a prospect Richards was in the early days of his career:
- City's youngest ever captain at age 21.
- Capped for England after just 28 senior club appearances.
- England's youngest ever capped defender at age 18.
Micah has spent 10 years in the show. And he is still just 25 years old. Still young enough to bounce back from what looks like a distinct and very real downward trend.
Years 2-5 of Micah's career were gold. He was a very young player logging heavy minutes in one of the best league's in the world. All the while playing a position (defense) which tends to be seen as extremely challenging for young players to play let alone excel at.
Average Minutes Per Game
If we forget about the boundaries of each season and simple line up all 320 Premier league games that Micah could have featured in and work out what his rolling average of minutes played in each of those games was we get a chart like this:
Rolling 10 Game Average Minutes Played
If use a rolling 10 game average, which captures 10 game spans, instead of single game spans we produce a chart like this:
That black line is a linear trend line. That line is heading in the wrong direction.
There simply is not enough blue(average minutes played per game) in the last 5 years of Micah's career. Micah Richards is simply not playing enough.
Potential Reasons For The Decline In Minutes Played
- Poor Form
- Lack of ability
- Unable to keep up with the improving standard of the first XI
- Increased competition for places
- Zabaletta's form
Where Does Micah's City Career Go From Here?
This article isn't a pronouncement of the death of Micah's career but it certainly is a very loud and clear warning klaxon.
Micah Richards reportedly earns £65k per week at Manchester City and that contract expires at the end of the 2014/15 season.
Place yourself in Txiki Begiristain's shoes, what do you do with the following information?
- A 25 year old full-back with incredible but still slightly rough skills, who is now 2nd choice right-back. The player is trending in the wrong direction in terms of minutes played (just 16% in the last season and a half) and has an increasingly worrying injury record to his name. The player also has just one year remaining on his contract .