Hey big spender… win a title for me?

by admin

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Manchester City’s victory over Liverpool was, in the end, convincing.
Whilst it is a patently obvious statement that an early goal settled them – it would do any team in the world – the game turned when Gareth Barry calmly passed the ball into the net.

Before that Liverpool had actually started brightly, buoyed by being sent out by Roy Hodgson in a much more attacking vain than his predecessor would ever have dared. However, once Roberto Mancini’s men went ahead the game was effectively over.

The first goal was more important than normal for several reasons. The all-time high expectation levels at the club – ramped up a level with the first ever visit by the club’s owner Sheikh Mansour – means that the players are operating under considerable pressure. The early breakthrough meant they could do that most un-English thing and keep the ball patiently without trying to score in every move without the crowd getting on their backs.

Secondly, City don’t score that many goals. Look at the way the team is set-up with thre defensive midfielders in Barry, De Jong and Toure. The former Barcelona man is actually playing as the most attacking of the three and not even his most ardent fan would list creativity and goal scoring as anywhere near his best attributes.

Many fans and pundits alike have been critical of the decision to let some of their players go, with Bellamy and Ireland being the two most commonly cited. They are undeniably good players, but a closer inspection of City’s team shows that they really won’t be missed.

It appears so far that Mancini favours a 4-3-3 formation. The attacking options at his disposable are frightening. For the main striker he can chose between Tevez, Adebayor, and Mario Balotelli (although Mancini stated recently that he could be better than Torres because he can play up front and as a winger) and in the two wide men positions between Adam Johnston, James Milner, Balotelli, David Silva and er, Shaun Wright Phillips.

City look solid in the centre of defence with Toure Kolo and Kompany very competent Premier League players and Jo Hart showing exactly what England missed out on at the World Cup. Fans of City will be hopeful that their full backs recover from injury: a better team than Liverpool would surely have exploited Richards and Lescott on the flanks.

Finishing in the top four is a deemed ‘the minimum requirement’ this season for the richest team in football. With the talent that they have at their disposal, I expect City to break into the top three at least.

Whether they can do better than this depends on how brave Mancini is. At the moment he is living up to the slightly lazy cliché that all Italian managers are defensive. The 4-3-3 formation has its place but the suspicion remains that it will be employed against weaker opposition when a 4-4-2 system would result in more wins. City can’t afford to just try to not get beaten; they need to win.

He has the options – how does Tevez and Adebayor up top being supplied by Adam Johnston and De Silva sound? With Barry, Milner and Toure in the middle of the park and their first choice back five. It sounds like a team that can challenge for the title to me.

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  • Darren

    what a difference a week makes. After their woeful & lucky performance at Spurs all of a sudden the press are giving them a chance of league success.

    No wonder England are so shite.

    Build them up, kick them down!

    SWP has to leave, he’s not going to get a game yet I bet Capdivo still picks him

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