Even if you, dear reader, cannot even remotely come to terms with me writing that Demichelis was Man City's best center back by the seasons end then at least concede one of the following: 1) I am out of my mind. 2) Demichelis was the most consistent defender by the seasons end.
Still not sold? Was Kompany a more consistent option: injury riddled, hobbling, and willing his body to go places it patently didn't want to go? Demichelis played a vital role in last seasons title win, and it was a role that seemed extremely unlikely to be bestowed upon the player after some of the early season shaky form, which culminated in the red card against Barcelona in the CL.
It was some turnaround for Demichelis.
Was he really the best center back by seasons end?
I think so, it is just my opinion obviously. But yeah, I think he was pretty damn good.
He wasn't good in his first few games was he?
No, but who is?
What do you mean?
Not many players new to the Premier League hit the ground running and become instant successes. It takes time for a lot of players, even for an experienced guy like Demichelis.
Why did he struggle early in the season?
New environment, a very different league from la Liga - different pace, different physicality, ever changing back four. Also, I don't think that Vincent Kompany is the easiest center back to play alongside. Kompany is aggressive, even rash at times and likes to step out of the line and hunt the ball. Demichelis had to adapt to all these changes?
So what helped him adapt?
Time, familiarity with Pellegrini and the staff and a lot of training ground work with Kompany on shape and understanding.
What was Demichelis doing well by the seasons end that he wasn't doing at the start of the season?
Without studying the video all words are likely to be drawn from memory and that isn't always the most accurate way to judge a player. By the seasons end it felt like Demichelis was the center back who was dictating the line, dictating when to step up and was doing so far more frequently that Kompany was.
Demichelis became the more aggressive of the pairing and while some of this can be attributed to Kompany's injuries, we must also credit Demichelis for becoming more comfortable playing in the side and for being more decisive.
Any specific turning point?
Some people point to the Barcelona game where he was actually playing quite well before being red carded. The criticism that was thrown Demichelis' way was about as bad as it could get. It was all blue sky and sunshine from there out. It literally couldn't have gotten any worse.
For me, the turning point was Hull City away. Kompany was sent off early and Demichelis proceeded to give an absolute masterclass in organizing his defence, holding a line around the 18 yard box, which caught Hull offside numerous times, and in short being pretty flawless in terms of his positional play.
Maybe Hull was the first game of his City career where he felt truly like the man, where he felt like his team truly needed him. And he delivered. From that point onward Demichelis was pretty darn good.
Can he continue that form into the new season?
Well, he is a year older and any pace the player once had departed long before he washed up on these shores, so yeah, why not.
But will he play?
If Mangala is signed then it looks like Demichelis would become the #3 center back and a player who could fill in on either the left side or the right side of defence when injury or suspension strikes. For Demichelis, who turns 34 in December, this seems like the perfect spot to be at: not young enough to play full-time, but still in possession of enough experience to fill in when needed.
34 is pushing on a bit?
Yeah, and it would be fair to guess that this will be his last season at City. Center back's, some of them at least, age pretty well, but nearly all players start experiencing a serious decline of their powers once into their 30's and Demichelis will be no different. The pace goes, the body becomes more susceptible to injury.
How many games will he play?
That's high, no?
You know Kompany's injury history, right?