Things looked to have gone from bad to worse for Manchester City when John Stones pulled up injured shortly before the Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk. The Sky blues succumbed to an unexpected defeat against Norwich City on Saturday and it seemed this was the beginning of a terrible time for the team. With regular center-back Aymeric Laporte out until next year, coping without him was always going to be a challenge. New solutions had to be found.
The Brazilian has played some of his best football under Pep Guardiola. He was one of the most important players for City last season, helping the club to an unprecedented domestic treble. And just when he was expected to be winding down his career as Rodri was brought in to take his place in the team, the call of duty has demanded his reinvention in a new role. Having just one senior center-back in the squad, Guardiola had to come up with solutions fast to avert any crisis.
With Fernandinho in the team he can rest assured there is a ready-made solution. That is not to say the Brazilian is a perfect fit for the position. All things being equal, he should be a rotational player for Rodri in the defensive midfield role as the young Spaniard cannot play all the games all season. But he has slotted in quite well to fill the void left by the absence of both Laporte and Stones. And what’s more, he has been excellent so far.
In fact, the 34-year-old appears ready to perform in any position if needed. This has drawn his manager’s praise. The Catalan stated after a composed performance against Shakhtar Donetsk that produced a morale-boosting clean sheet:
“I didn’t have doubts he could do it. He’s going to do it…
Ferna can play in any position and that’s why he’s so important for us.”
At this point, keeping him fit should be a priority for the manager until Stones returns, at least. Even then, the midfielder will be needed to provide depth. He can fill in whenever there’s need for rotation making him a vital part of the team for yet another campaign.