On May 11th, as Martin Demichelis jigged and jumped for joy, Premiership trophy held aloft in front of the fans in the South Stand who were lapping it up, one could be forgiven for thinking that here was a crowd favourite demonstrating his gratitude to those who had loyally backed him throughout a winning campaign. As all City fans know however, this was far from the truth in a season that started inconspicuously, slumped dramatically and then steadily improved to end on a high note.
It should have come as no surprise when Pellegrini was appointed in the summer that he would target Demichelis and bring him to the club. Afterall, the Argentine had played as ‘The Engineers’ trusty lieutenant in spells at River Plate and Malaga previously. Questions were asked as to the logic behind bringing in a 33 year old centre half, paying a fee to Atletico Madrid despite him never kicking a ball for the club and whether he had sufficient pace and mobility to be a success in the EPL.
A fairly serious knee injury hindered his start at the club, meaning it wasn’t until October at Stamford Bridge that the pony-tailed defender was seen in a City shirt. As we should expect now with the microscopic attention of the media on City at all times, Demichelis was given no lead in time to adjust to the league and was criticised for his lack of recovery pace and position awareness, with Alan Hansen on MOTD a particularly vocal critic. That criticism reached a crescendo as two high profile errors against Barcelona and Wigan resulted in City crashing out of two cup competitions in the space of a week.
In a football world of increasingly black and white opinion, no allowances were given to Demichelis in terms of adjusting to a new league and the constant chopping and changing of central defensive partners and indeed the goalkeeper behind the backline. Ironically, Demichelis star begin to rise when deprived of captain Vincent Kompany in the away fixture to Hull in March. In that fixture, the Argentines organisational skills and experience, not to mention his comfort in possession which was clear throughout the campaign came to the fore in a vital away victory.
From then on, with Kompany restored as his central defensive partner, the pair went on to finish the season strongly as City tightened up at the back culminating in the 5 game winning streak that secured the club their 2nd title in 3 years and resulted in that joyous celebration as the title was secured. Whoever arrives in the summer, with City’s pursuit of a top quality centre half no secret, it would appear that Martin Demichelis cult hero status has been secured with the blue following.