Aleks Kolarov (21 league appearances, 2 Champions League starts): 6/10
In his fifth season in a City shirt, Aleks Kolarov registered about as average of a campaign as possible. Once again he was part of City’s familiar timeshare at Left Back with Gael Clichy, playing 1486 league minutes (16.5 90s), starting two of eight Champions League matches, and starting all four of City’s domestic cup fixtures. Below is an illustration of the fairly even playing time usage split between Kolarov & Clichy under Manuel Pellegrini:
In the opening months of the ’14-’15 season, Kolarov would most likely have been the preference for starting left back amongst City fans, until a calf injury in warm-ups prior to the Manchester United match at the Etihad in early November caused him to miss the next seven games. Upon recovery, he found it difficult to win back a regular starting place in the side until the final six fixtures of the season. If there is one thing we’ve learned about Kolarov in his City career, it’s that he needs a string of successive games to find his best form, otherwise he’s prone to defensive mistakes and wayward offensive contribution. And while Kolarov tends to frustrate supporters with his inconsistency, he always seems to win us back, as he did in the aforementioned final six games with two well-taken freekick goals and a Man of the Match display against Aston Villa. An area of his game that makes Kolarov unique compared to City’s other defensive players is his ability/tendency to shoot the ball with his cannon of a left leg (although some of those shots end up in the second tier): 27 shots in league matches – almost twice as many as the next best defender (Mangala with 14) and more than either Fernandinho (24) or Fernando (10).
Highlight of the Season: Freekick goals against Aston Villa & QPR
Lowlight of the Season: Conceding a penalty (albeit a harsh call) which lead to CSKA Moscow’s equaliser in the Champions League group match in Russia
While not any indication of this season in particular, there seems to be a wide consensus that left-back is one of City’s weak spots in the squad and that one of either Kolarov or Clichy should depart to make way for a younger/better left back. Given Clichy’s homegrown status, I wouldn’t be surprised if the soon-to-be 30 year old Kolarov wasn’t wearing a City shirt at the start of next season.