Elano’s Exit: A Bad Sign

August 3, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Elano 

Elano’s exit from City further proves the critics point about Mark Hughes inability to manage cosmopolitan styled footballers. The Brazilian midfielder who has been a critical part of Dunga’s setup in Brazil and starred under Sven Goran Eriksson, never found a real role in Hughes’ British styled attack. Forced to play wide and track back regularly and also neutered of the creative sparks which are shown in South American qualifying and this summer in the Confederations Cup, Elano was wasting his time in City blue.

The big question now, is whether or not more quality players from South America or Continental clubs will sign for Hughes. Those signing for City currently, may in fact be doing so believing a managerial change is coming. If Hughes does survive the first few months of the season, chances are City will find it difficult to bring in players from outside England in the next window.


Elano and Robinho Take on the World

June 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Elano, Robinho 

The FIFA Confederations Cup begins Sunday and Man City heroes Robinho and Elano will be among the key players to watch. Brazil having been transformed into a more tactical and defensive minded side under Dunga lead COMNEBOL qualifying and now put their impressive record on display against some of the world’s best.

Brazil has been drawn into Group B with Egypt, the United States and Italy. The Brazilians will be favored against Egypt who will be without Zaki, and will overwhelming favorites against the United States who have struggled away from home for the better part of six years. But it is the match-up versus Marcello Lippi and Italy that bears watching. That final group game will be broadcast in the UK i on BBC 3 a week from today.

Should Brazil advance to the final a date with Spain, the current world #1 could await. We’ll track Elano and Robinho’s progress throughout the tournament.

The Hughes Revolution: Barry The Latest Signing

Mark Hughes has seen the faith placed in him by City’s owners and some supporters rewarded with the signing of Gareth Barry. Barry has featured for England under Fabio Capello more regularly than any other midfield player.

Hughes is the right man to take City forward in a positive way. For all the clamoring from outsiders that City must bring in a cosmopolitan manager, Hughes has an ability to connect with players from the British Isles, the core of this City team better than anyone on the market.

In his role Hughes is learning how to better utilize Robinho and Elano two Brazilians that have made Dunga’s international side perhaps the most formidable on globe outside of Spain. Jo’s return to Manchester City will likely find the talented Brazilian striker more at home than he was in the first six months of Hughes tenure.

The City manager has learned to deal with talented foreign players and his managerial skills had clearly improved by the end of the 2008-09 season.

Additionally Hughes ability to sell top players with Premiership experience on City instead of a current big four club is critical.

Let’s look at the list of City signings from within the Premier League under Hughes:

  • Shaun Wright Phillips

An England squad player whose level of comfort in City colors is unquestioned

  • Wayne Bridge

England international whose relationship with Hughes dates back to Southampton in the late 90s. This signing solves City’s long term woes on the left side of defense and can push forward into the attack comfortably.

  • Shay Given

One of the top 10 goalkeepers in the world and arguably the best Premiership goalkeeper over the past ten seasons. An indispensible player for the Republic of Ireland

  • Craig Bellamy

Cultured Welsh international who previously had great success under Hughes with the Wales National Team.

  • Gareth Barry

After years on the fringe has become a regular for England under Fabio Capello.

Hughes has not only signed useful premier league players but players who feature regularly for the national teams of the British Isles. In City’s recent history attracting quality players of this stature who were not on their last legs as professionals has been almost impossible. With these signings Hughes has proven he belongs. Now the question is whether or not he has staying power.

Whose Next?

The injuries to Benjani and Bojinov now doubled with Bellamy and Robinho both set to miss significant time begs the question as to whose next among City’s attacking players to go down. City is left with thin options up front. Darrius Vassell could always be thrown into the mix as conceivably could Elano, but among pure strikers you are left with a  19 year old Daniel Sturridge and two 20 year olds Ched Evans, and Felipe Caiecedo.

Mark Hughes decision to let Jo leave on loan to Everton looked like solid business two months ago but now has to be questioned. Nonetheless, City should have Robinho back sooner than Bellamy.

Wednesday’s match against Aston Villa, a side whose away form has been outstanding presents a challenge for the youngsters. Will they be able to step up?

Brazilians Continue City Away Misery

February 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Elano, Match Summaries, Robinho 

The failure of a fitness test just before kickoff by Micah Richards was a clear harbinger of things to come from City. Pompey, bruised and beaten and having just gone through a managerial change dominated the first half. City’s best opportunity to score came around minute 20 when Craig Bellamy laid off a ball for Elano. With seemingly all day to pick the target, the Brazilian missed entirely.

Elano scored midweek for Brazil against Italy at Ashburton Grove, but he looked horrible on Saturday filling in for the suspended Shaun Wright Phillips on the right flank. His Brazilian mate, Robinho who was also brilliant at midweek was if anything even less effective.

City’s backline held up for much of the first half even against the brilliance of Glen Johnson and effective runs of Jermaine Pennant. Dave Nugent, one time England striker kept City level by missing an open target more than once. Shay Given did the best he could to throw Nugent off, including once on a breakaway when Wayne Bridge had pushed so far upfield to try and provide the service that Robinho was incapable or perhaps unwilling to provide.

Shalem Logan made his Premier League debut: not his Man City debut however, as he featured in the League Cup a year and a half ago under Sven Goran Eriksson.  Logan looked raw at times but did more to supplement the attack from the right back position than the ineffective Elano did.

Craig Bellamy provided some moments in this match thanks to his legendary and volatile temper. Even after the match Bellamy could be seen trying to lecture the officials. Vincent Company serving as captain for the match tried his best to calm down Bellamy but it was to no avail.

A lack of composure always follows when City falls behind and after Glen Johnson’s brilliant strike midway through the second half the side went to pieces. Robinho, ineffective as always away from Eastlands had already been subbed out, while his Brazilian mate Elano continued his personal efforts to keep Pompey clear of the relegation zone.

Late in the match, the slow and awkward Peter Crouch began to resemble Lionel Messi, getting behind the City defense easily. Had City not made the transfer deadline deal to acquire Shay Given, this scoreline could have been worse and more embarrassing.

Earlier in the week we asked the question as to whether or not Mark Hughes knew how to manage Brazilian attacking players. But the shameful performances by Robinho and Elano against a side that had not won a Premier League match in close to three months beg the question as to whether the duo simply are further proof as to how far Brazil has fallen in the world football pecking order under Dunga.

2-0 was the final scoreline, and City’s woes away from Eastlands continue. The Blues last won away from home in August.

Can Hughes Manage Brazilians?

February 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Elano, Jo, Robinho 

robinho_elano

Brazil’s performance in this week’s friendly match against Italy gave Dunga, a manager under fire some breathing room. But it had the opposite affect on Mark Hughes, bringing into his ability to manage a cosmopolitan squad. Elano and Robinho both scored goals in Dunga decidedly un-Joga Bonito Brazilian setup.

Dunga had many of the same questions surround him in the South American media and his selection of Elano for Copa America 2007 was a definitive attempt to break the mold of previous Brazil squads and to place a more defensive and possession oriented stamp on the national team.

Mark Hughes had three Brazilian players from September through December. Each at times seemed unsettled and uncommitted to the club. But Brazil’s national team had been similarly unsettled for a long period of time following Dunga’s ascension. The thinking in  much of the press that Hughes somehow cannot mold a cosmopolitan squad may or may not be valid.

Somehow Brazilian football is evolving to resemble more of a continental European style and less of a traditional Latin one. That’s why Sven Goran Eriksson whose tactics always contain a continental flavor (as evidenced by Eriksson’s total mismanagement of the Mexican National Team whose players are used to playing a completely different way: to counter this Sven has accelerated the naturalization process for a number of foreigners currently playing club football in Mexico who fit his style) went out of his way to acquire Elano.

Hughes has stated openly that Elano now understands his role at City. But given Elano’s central role with one of the top national teams on the planet, will he accept Hughes tactics? The failure of Jo at City coupled with the players roraring early success under David Moyes at Everton raises more questions about Hughes. Is this another case of Hughes not being tactically flexible enough to build a setup around a strong Brazilian striker? Or was Jo simply not prepared for Premiership football when at Eastlands?

Questions about Hughes will continue to persist going forward. One thing is for certain though: despite all of the flux and circus atmosphere surrounding the team this season, City still have an opportunity for their best ever Premier League finish. That at least is to Mark Hughes credit.