Did Pellegrini throw a spanner in the works of his City machine?

Did Pellegrini throw a spanner in the works of his City machine?
Feb 22, 2016

Featured Manchester City

Throughout his managerial career, Manuel Pellegrini has acquired the nickname ‘The Engineer’. However, he was not able to engineer a win at the weekend as a largely inexperienced side for the sky blues was defeated at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea.

Chilean boss Pellegrini was criticised both before and after the game by many, including City fans, for opting to hand five academy graduates their full first team debuts.

The hypocrisy of some, who often claim that City have no youth and ‘buy’ trophies, was clear for all to see, and it appears that Pellegrini can’t get anything right.

With several injuries to vital parts of his Manchester City machine, the Chilean was ‘forced to select that team’ which had just and to rely on new components. With any machine, there is no way of knowing if a new part is capable of doing a job properly without testing it. Trial and error is key.

Pellegrini is renowned for his squad rotation and, with several key fixtures approaching, the 62-year old was always bound to make changes to his line-up.

Having travelled to London to face Chelsea in the FA Cup, City will now proceed to fly half way around the world to Ukraine in order to face Dynamo Kiev in a crucial Champions League tie, before returning to London to battle it out with Liverpool at Wembley in the Capital One Cup final.

As aforementioned, there has been an abundance of injuries amongst the City squad this term; in total, there have been over 50 separate instances of injuries to first team players. And whilst City fans may be (bizarrely) bemoaning Pellegrini’s decision to give some of the club’s most highly-rated young players an opportunity, they would surely have complained if the likes of Vincent Kompany or Sergio Aguero picked up an injury ahead of these vital games.

In fact, the young players performed exceptionally well against Chelsea and did the travelling fans proud. They gave more effort and showed more spirit after going 4-1 down than some of the first team players do after going down 1-0. That in itself speaks volumes about the mentality of the players looking to break through – as well as the players they are looking to replace.

Young centre back Tosin Adarabioyo, who is the current captain of City’s Under-18s and has made several appearances in the Under-19 UEFA Youth League and the Under-21 Premier League, made his first team debut and was particularly impressive, claiming the Blues’ man of the match award, despite the fact that City conceded five.

In reality, it was the disastrous performances of some of the senior players – goalkeeper Willy Caballero, defender Martin Demichelis and midfielder Fernando – that ultimately lost City the tie.

Argentine duo Caballero and Demichelis are too old now and appear to be rusting around the edges: Pellegrini ought to consider incorporating fresh metal into his machine, sooner rather than later.

It was a bold move for City not to invest in their squad in January, especially with their vast troubles, but it did signal that Pellegrini was confident in his current squad’s ability, including the academy players who are on the cusp of the first team.

The young Blues who did get their chance were creative and intelligent in attack, and although they lack the cutting-edge and clinical ability of first-team regular like Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, many of them demonstrated that they definitely have the raw potential and determination to succeed.

The epitome of this came in the form of City’s only goal, netted by 19-year old striker David Faupala, completing a neat exchange with Kelechi Iheanacho, who squared the ball back to him and he poked home from close range.

But there were also other moments of promise from the youngsters. Faupala demonstrated great energy and eagerness from the onset, and he almost grabbed a goal in the opening minutes, completing two nutmegs before getting a decent shot on goal.

Following the game, Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink described his opponent’s debutants as ‘dangerous’ and it was very clear to see why.

Meanwhile, Adarabioyo believes that the impressive performances of all the young players against Chelsea will ‘inspire a lot of youngsters to work really hard’.

City spent £200 million on their new Football Academy complex, with the aim of eventually winning the Champions League with a squad of predominantly academy graduates. And regardless of the poor result against a strong Chelsea side, if their efforts in the game are anything to go by, these young City stars will have a bright future for sure.

With the imminent arrival of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, it seems that the Spaniard’s renovation project will involve the introduction of many of these promising new components and the scrapping of rusty old parts.

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