Fernando was the only summer arrival to feature in the opening fixture away to Newcastle on Sunday and whilst Fernandinho is still feeling his way back to fitness after the World Cup, there was plenty of evidence to suggest that he faces a battle to return to the side.
Now it would be misleading to read too much into one match (Chelsea fans take note), but ‘the Octopus’ put in a sterling performance that would appear to personify Pellegrini’s "humble and hungry" philosophy this season. The Brazilian is the type of player upon which gritty victories such as this are secured, he was strong in the tackle, demonstrated good recovery pace and took it as a personal affront whenever Newcastle got in and around the City box.
The determination and energy he showed to cover back and get a vital block onto a goal bound attempt by Ayoze was the clearest demonstration yet of what he will bring to the side. Quite clearly an upgrade on the now departed Javi Garcia – and by all accounts for slightly less money too. No wonder Pellegrini was happy to return to the deal this summer after it failed to be concluded in January.
It is worth noting that whilst Fernandinho was carrying a slight injury towards the end of the season, Garcia had actually supplanted him in the starting line up indicating that in tighter fixtures a true holding player would be the manager’s selection alongside Yaya. That is not to say that Fernandinho did not have an excellent campaign last year, but his is a more natural all round midfield game and his attacking capabilities will also be demonstrated further with the addition of Fernando alongside him. Don’t be surprised if we see more of the Fernando – Fernandinho – Yaya axis in midfield in future.