Over the years, City have been renowned for their wingers.
Neil Young and Mike Summerbee were both prominent figures along the wings during City’s glorious era of the 60’s and 70’s, with Francis Lee providing the steel and Colin Bell the creativity in the middle of the park. It was a combination that brought major success, which saw the blues win trophy after trophy at home and abroad.
In the 80’s, Paul Simpson burst onto the scene and later combined with David White to terrorise opposition defences. Indeed, it was those two who effectively destroyed Huddersfield Town in November 1987, with Simpson providing three converted crosses and an inch perfect ball for White to run onto to complete his hat-trick during the 10-1 thrashing. But in those days, it was Neil McNab and Paul Lake that pulled the strings in midfield.
Although Simpson left the following season, City still gained promotion and Mark Ward arrived in late 1989 and City, after surviving relegation, went on to achieve two fifth placed finishes in the two following seasons.
But since those days, the blues have had a variety of players that could operate on the wing but with very limited success. City have tried different combinations, such as Darius Vassell – an out and out striker – and Elano (amongst others) on the right, while Kiki Musampa and Albert Riera briefly showed glimpses of quality.
But now City have an opportunity to return to the basics of using wingers that have given us success in the past. Adam Johnson, a natural left-footer, can play on either wing while SWP’s most effective position is on the right flank. Both are quick and can deliver many a telling ball into the area and City should use their skills to their advantage.
Johnson has adapted well to the fast pace of Premiership football since his arrival from Middlesbrough, has rightly earned a call-up to the England squad and is now one of the favourites to travel to South Africa. SWP has had a difficult second season back at Eastlands but proved his worth in the final game of the season at West Ham when he scored with a far post header. But even though he also received a call-up, it is debatable as to whether or not he gets a plane ticket too.
With Martin Petrov and Craig Bellamy rumoured to be on their way out of Eastlands, City should replace them both with a creative midfielder, someone capable of making things happen and who can provide the perfect pass for SWP and Johnson to use their pace.
Finding a midfield partnership to allow a winger system is an arduous task but if Mancini can get it right, he will bring out the best in City’s midfield and allow us to push for major honours next season.
It is an opportunity that Mancini cannot allow to pass by.
What do you think? Should Mancini use both wingers next season? Who would be best in midfield to allow this system to work?
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