• Sunday, July 21, 2024
businessday logo


What is so special about Man City?


On the most recent UEFA Champions League match day, Champions of England Manchester City turned up with the most tepid and uninspiring of performances, especially in the first half to leave themselves needing a minor miracle to progress to the round of 8. The question that arises is; what is so special about the blue half of Manchester?

Is it their history?

Definitely not, their 4 premier division titles pales greatly in comparison to Manchester United’s 20. City’s 5 FA cup titles will be looked down upon by the 11 won by Manchester United and Arsenal. Their 3 English League cup trophies is less than half of the 8 amassed by Liverpool, and their single European trophy doesn’t come anywhere close to the 8 European cups gathered by Liverpool. They have the unenviable record of being one of two teams to have won an European title, and to have been relegated to the third tier of their domestic league. Their stadium is only the 5th biggest owned by a club in England. When mentioning English football’s royalty in terms of history, for no reason will Manchester City be in the equation.


Is it their manager?

Pound for pound, Manuel Pellegrini is one of the most overrated managers in world football. His entire European trophy haul starts and ends with his achievements last season where he won the English premier league and League cup titles. The rest of his trophies were gathered in South America, and in due respect to the continent with the most talented footballers, nobody really rates coaches who rule the game from South America.

Pellegrini is without doubt one of the easiest coaches in European football to play against, simply because he sets out all his teams to play in the same way. The attacking way. Sam Alladyce currently of West Ham United recently said that Pellegrini is like Arsene Wenger in that you always know what to expect from them, and that’s what ultimately makes them beatable. In the premier league, the mere gulf in riches and quality ensures that they can overpower most opponents regardless of tactics, but the limitations of their unidirectional tactical nous becomes apparent when playing against teams with more elevated statuses in the Champions League.

The concept of defending is almost alien to Pellegrini and this current crop of Manchester City players. When Manchester City win by a single goal margin, it is more likely to be of the 3-2, 4-3 variety than of the 1-0 king. Even with a conservative midfield partnership of Fernando and Fernandinho, the attacking mentality still remains. On Tuesday against Messi and his possession loving Barcelona team, Pellegrini chose to go toe to toe against the Catalans and lost the game in 45 minutes, as the likes of Messi and Iniesta ran rings around them. Till they accept they cannot always outscore the opposition, they’ll remain pretenders in the Champions League.

Is it the strength of their playing squad?

When judging the ability of the entire squad at Manchester City, it seems like most people just look at the names of paper, and the amount it costs to assemble them and decide to pronounce them as world class. The only area of the squad where Manchester City is loaded with top, top talent is in the centre forward position, where their back up strikers will start in almost any club in England bar Chelsea. Other than this, the squad players are players who look better than they actually are because the spine of Hart, Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Kun Aguero possess too much quality for most teams to live with. Kolarov is a joke of a full back on any day when defending might actually be needed, Mangala’s reading of the game is as poor as anything you’ll see at this level, while Sagna is a 31 year old defender who has lost his pace and seems to be content picking up his retirement fund. The loss of Toure to the AFCON exposed Fernando as a very limited player, Navas and Milner are useful but average players, and Jovetic seems to be struggling to deal with the rigours of English football. Overall, the gulf in quality between the City starting XI and the rest of the squad is too large. Where they to be hit with injuries to key players like Manchester United and Arsenal have this season, they probably will struggle to qualify for Champions League football. To further buttress the point, they won only a single game in the entire time Yaya Toure was at the AFCON.

In conclusion, Manchester City only won the league last season because of the inexperience of Brendan Rodgers, and Chelsea’s lack of an elite centre forward, and creativity from central midfield. All Manchester City can really boast of at this time is an endless pit of money, and until they can back those resources up with on the field tactics, and smarter recruitment, they will not become a force to be feared in Europe.


Adedamola Obisesan