What do City need – more players or tactical flexibility?
City’s whirlwind push to the top of English football bears it’s own weight of expectations. Here we are, a decade or so back in the top league, where we belong, living out every football fan’s dream.
And yet there’s a heavy expectation from City these days -every performance scrutinised, every goal weighed, every mistake magnified. And with City now expected to compete on all four fronts, we will find out this season if the squad can live up to the stress or, like Arsenal, break down.
The manager’s words – that we lack central midfielders – are both well-calculated and accurate. Mancini didn’t get the central midfielder he was looking for during the summer transfer window, but talking about a lack of squad depth also takes some of the pressure of the players themselves, who have only themselves to blame for dropping 3 points away to Fulham. In fairness, that’s the sort of game City would have expected to lose / drop points in seasons gone by, so to view a draw as a failure (after dominating the game) is great progress in itself.
Today City play Birmingham – the relegated Carling Cup champions. Their reward? Losing players, playing in the Europa League and coming up against us in the Carling Cup – at least they can have one less competition to worry about after today.
But going back to squad depth – it’s worth asking why Mancini cannot – or will not – change tactics and formations to lift the burden off central midfield. He can easily switch to a standard 4-4-1-1 with Aguero / Dzeko / Tevez / Silva taking the front two spots, Nasri accompanying Barry / Yaya in the center and Silva / one or more of the fullbacks taking up the wider midfield positions. It’s not ideal, but it’s a better answer than playing unfit / tiring players or losing games because you don’t have experienced bodies on the pitch.
Considering the side (and their relative positions on the pitch) that United put out last night, it’s something worth thinking about. Of course, that’s easier done when you have players playing together for a long, long time, which is why the Etihad Campus, when it bears fruit, will be so important to the club.
You can expect Mancini to ring the changes and give his younger / reserve players a run in the Carling Cup – with Hargreaves expected to play a few minutes. Given his history though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was withdrawn before the game. Hopefully he doesn’t go and get himself injured.
Manchester City Tickets
City’s next Premier League game is at home on Saturday against Everton. You can buy tickets for the game through TicketBis by going to the Manchester City v Everton tickets page.