Manchester City Are In Need Of A Major Summer Refurbishment

Manchester City Are In Need Of A Major Summer Refurbishment
Apr 2, 2017

Featured Manchester City

When Pep Guardiola rolled into the Etihad last summer, players, pundits and many sections of the British media had already tied the sky blue and white ribbons around the Premier League trophy. A barnstorming start to the campaign strengthened their claims that Guardiola was in fact, the tactical coaching magician, that he was claimed to be at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Fast forward six months and Guardiola is facing a slightly different challenge. Three places and eleven points behind current leaders Chelsea, Guardiola is currently on his way to his worst finish to a domestic season since his coaching baptism began in 2007. Title wins at Barcelona and Munich look good on the CV of the Spaniard, but with his heavy spending during the summer not yet bearing fruit, Guardiola will look to perform open heart surgery on a squad that for all its attacking prowess, have the defensive durability of a popadom.

Joe Hart was ditched before he had even had the chance to slip on a glove. Replaced by ex-Barca keeper, Claudio Bravo. Guardiola cited the fact that Bravo was more accomplished with his feet than predecessor Hart. Unfortunately for Pep, Bravo had forgotten that he was allowed to use his hands. A shot faced conversion rate of a keeper who had been relegated, not fighting for a title. Willy Caballero is City’s current custodian. A player who was back up to Hart and has hardly set the world alight with his performances.

With Guardiola switching from a back four and three, his players are constantly switched and changed to suit formation and opposition. Big money was paid out for John Stones. The stylish defender is certainly one to look towards in the future of England’s back line, but currently is one mistake away from a goal in every match. Trying to play the “Guardiola way” will no doubt make Stones a better player, but until he manages to iron out his basic errors, this will certainly hamper his development.

For just over eighteen months now, Vincent Kompany has struggled for fitness. Calf injuries followed by knee injuries followed by calf causing him problems again, have curtailed the skipper’s contribution. Guardiola could certainly do with a fit Kompany. In both City’s title-winning seasons of 2012 and 2014, Kompany was an ever present. The following seasons, Kompany’s absence coincided with City’s poor defensive showings.

This season, Guardiola has played some of his players, mainly defenders, in a manner of various positions. Pablo Zabaleta, City’s right full-back for the last seven seasons, has played so far, right-back, centre back and holding midfielder. Brazilian holding midfielder, Fernandinho, has recently been holding the right-back roll. With Guardiola’s expansive style of play, these players rarely sit in the position in which they theoretically should be playing.

Full-backs tucking inside to create overloads, forwards pulling wide to allow central players to burst through the centre, all part of the Guardiola plan of free flowing football, except when this breaks down, leaves massive holes in the back. Think Barcelona and Munich, both teams fielded a side with no recognised striker! Aleksander Kolarov, City’s normal left full back, has even flirted with centre back and left winger so far this season. All of which have come with varied success.

The foundation of this City team is in need of a revamp. A back four and keeper must be on Pep’s radar this summer if he is going to build an all-conquering side like in the two previous countries in which he has worked. There are no easy games in the Premier League. No Darmstadt, Elche or Eibar. Every game is tough and unpredictable, a bit like Guardiola’s back four, unpredictable, not tough!

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