Man City – The Best Squad In The Premier League?

With the January transfer window approaching faster than Eduardo can go to ground, what better time than now to assess the merits of the Manchester City squad. Obviously, Sheikh Mansour is more than happy to supply manager Mark Hughes with more funds in which to add to his squad, but is there really a need to do this? Surely City, having spent the amount that we have, should already have players who are able to challenge for the upper echelons of the Premier League …

With City having reportedly crammed three years of spending into just two action-packed transfer windows, Mark Hughes will incontestably feel as if he has put the wheels in motion as he attempts to turn City from perennial underachievers to a side capable of mixing it with the so called ‘Big Four’ on regular occasions. Although it will undoubtedly take time to manufacture City into a consistent, hard-to-beat, title-challenging side, the funds are available to Sparky, thanks mainly to the generosity and apparent loyalty of Sheikh Mansour, so the majority of realistic City followers expect success, in such way, shape or form, to follow shortly.

It must be remembered how far City have come in the space of such a short time. Just a couple of years ago, we were relying on the “talents” of Bernardo Corradi and Georgios Samaras to fire us into Europe, “ably” supported by football luminaries such as Ousmane Dabo and Claudio Reyna. Just a decade ago, we were languishing in what is now called League One, with our hopes resting upon the likes of Gareth Taylor and Terry Cooke. In that time, we have gone from Russell to Robinho and from Allsopp to Adebayor!

However, despite the quality currently at the disposal of Hughes, there are surely some areas of the squad which could benefit from further additions. I will now cast a detailed eye over our playing squad, rating their chances of remaining with us this season, and hopefully provide you with an insight into where I feel we could do with strengthening.

 
Just look at where we have come from, and you will realise the progress that has been made!

Goalkeepers

Shay Given- The Irishman will surely be regarded as one of Mark Hughes’s best signings, with his reflexes saving us on many an occasion so far this season. The former Newcastle stopper oozes confidence, and the City fans know that he will more than likely deny the opposition. He could command his box better, but that is only nit-picking – SURE TO STAY

Stuart Taylor – Yet to play a minute this season for the Blues, but he provides some experience as a back-up to Given. Unlikely to play a major role this year unless the number one suffers a serious injury – SURE TO STAY

Joe Hart- Currently out on loan at Birmingham and his performances are keeping veteran Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor out of the side. Gaining valuable experience playing week in week out, and this season will surely benefit him. Will look to challenge Given at City next year – SURE TO STAY


It’s a Given that Shay will make some fabulous saves …

Defenders

Pablo Zabaleta – Has had a tussle with Micah Richards over possession of the right-back role, although the latter seems to be in charge at the moment. The Argentine is a no-nonsense character, who is capable of filling in in a variety of positions. A useful squad member - PROBABLY STAYING

Micah Richards- Has, for the moment, won the battle with Zabaleta for the right-back position, but must retain his level of performance throughout the season. I’m one of his biggest critics, but while he continues to defend solidly and offers some sort of threat going forward, then I will support him like any other player. One thing that really vexes me is his refusal to sprint back when he wanders upfield for a corner or a free-kick – SURE TO STAY

Kolo Touré - The Ivory Coast international was captured from Arsenal in the summer and rather surprisingly was handed the captain’s armband. For me, he’s just not a vocal enough leader. He doesn’t seem to inspire the troops. He, along with Joleon Lescott, started slowly, but they have improved as a partnership recently. Touré possesses electrifying pace, but needs to maintain his concentration for the full 90 minutes. With Lescott now injured, his departure to the African Cup of Nations will be felt severely - SURE TO STAY

Nedum Onuoha - The intelligent defender, who has accrued a degree in accountancy only to pack that idea in when he embarked on a music course, has unsurprisingly, struggled with injuries this term. Nedum seems to be very injury-prone, but when fit, as displayed at the back end of last campaign, he provides an assurance and an extra dimension to the City defence. He will, courtesy of Lescott’s serious injury, now be given an extended run in the side and it must be hoped that he is able to recapture last season’s form - SURE TO STAY

Joleon Lescott - The centre back, who is also adept at performing in the left back position, had an extremely shaky start to his City career, having suffered the ignominy of a protracted and prolonged transfer from Everton. Despite his poor early performances and his questionable positional play, I stood by Lescott, convinced he would come good. And so it has proved. He was masterful in the victory over Chelsea, and although shaky again against Bolton, he looked to be settling in nicely. Unfortunately, he suffered a serious knee injury in the build up to the Tottenham game, and following an operation, he looks set to be out until early next year - SURE TO STAY

Wayne Bridge - The former Chelsea and Southampton man has come in for his fair share of criticism this season, notably from Match of the Day pundit Alan ‘You Won’t Win Anything With Kids’ Hansen. Bridge’s positional play has, at times, been poor but he has looked much more assured with Craig Bellamy playing in front of him that Robinho or Martin Petrov. While his attacking forays are useful, it is his defensive duties that need to be addressed, but given time, I’m confident that he will improve even further. He was unfortunate to suffer a fairly serious injury which looks set to keep him out until late January. This is probably the position which, at the moment, Mark Hughes is looking to strengthen – PROBABLY STAYING 

Sylvinho- The silver-haired Brazilian left-back has spent most of this season as understudy to Bridge, featuring at times on the bench, but never getting his chance unless of an injury to the England man. Handed his debut at home in the Carling Cup to Scunthorpe (one of three clubs with a swear word in their name – the others being Arsenal and F***ing Manchester United), he let no-one down, and he made his Premier League debut away to Bolton in a  pulsating 3-3 draw. He looked comfortable in possession of the ball, and although doubts still remain about his defensive capabilities, he looks set, in the absence of Bridge, to be given an extended run in the side – LIKELY TO STAY

Javier Garrido- The Spaniard, whose parents I had the pleasure of meeting at the UEFA Cup match in Santander last season, has been consigned to a spectator’s role this season, playing in the reserves, but failing to make a sufficient impact in training to move him ahead of Sylvinho in the pecking order. He looks certain to be shipped on in January if a club can be found to take him, although his saving grace may be the extent of the injury to Bridge - ON HIS WAY

 
Touré and Lescott started uncertainly but have improved since then

Midfielders

Shaun Wright Phillips- The Liliputian winger, in his second spell at the club, has produced some sparkling performances this campaign, but at the same time, he has also frustrated and disappointed in equal measure. His ability to coast past defenders is second to none, but the end product is often lacking. He tormented Armand Traoré in the Carling Cup, and has added goals to his repertoire, but I feel that there is still something missing from his game, something which could ultimately keep him out of England’s World Cup squad – SURE TO STAY

Vladimir Weiss - The Slovakian trickster, due to play in the World Cup this summer, has taken a passenger’s role for the most part this season, watching SWP try and nail down the right-wing role. However, City fans are genuinely excited by Weiss. His subsititute appearances are often cameos, but they provide a useful glimpse into what the future may hold. Vladi has an ability to dribble that is matched by few, and he took his goal against Arsenal with aplomb. He will surely look to increase the pressure on the current incumbent of his position, SWP, in the remaining part of the campaign – SURE TO STAY

Vincent Kompany - With his participation having been restricted earlier on in the season, the Belgian hardman saw his defensive midfield role occupied by his former Hamburg colleague, Nigel de Jong, who has relished his increased sense of responsibility this year and has been one of the Premier League’s standout performers. Kompany has often been on the bench, used sparingly by Hughes when City needed more defensive cover. Vincent looks certain to stay and will prove to be a capable deputy, whether in central defence or in his favoured defensive midfield position – SURE TO STAY

Nigel de Jong - Outstanding. Signed in the January transfer window of last season, the Dutchman flitted in and out of the side, but this time around, he has cemented his place in the team with a string of utterly superb performances. A fans favourite thanks to his no-nonsense, tough tackling approach, the Dutchman has been, along with Craig Bellamy, the Blues’ outstanding performer so far. Long may it continue! - SURE TO STAY

Stephen Ireland- Last season’s player of the year recipient has so far failed to reach the dizzying heights which he scaled last season with regularity. Although capable of turning the match with just one inch-perfect throughball, Ireland has often been left on the bench in favour of the more sturdy approach of de Jong and Gareth Barry. The Irishman, who has retired from international football, will look to regain his place in the side for the remainder of the campaign, and City fans will hope that he plays a major role in any future success - SURE TO STAY

Gareth Barry - Having been recruited from Aston Villa in the summer, Barry started the campaign for City in electric form, dominating the midfield and looking every bit an England international. He seemingly picked up a niggling injury which therefore limited his effectiveness during the next few games, but he looks to be a top quality signing, who is not afraid of doing the dirty work, whilst at the same time, has the quality to influence the game in the attacking third - SURE TO STAY

Michael Johnson- The injury prone midfielder, once compared to former City legend Colin ‘The King’ Bell, worked his way back to nearing full fitness after a long spell on the sidelines, only for tragedy to strike again when he damaged his knee in training, an injury which looks set to keep him out until the end of the season. It’s a great shame for the extremely talented midfielder, who has time on the ball and has the ability to score spectacular goals from outside the box, as displayed by his strike against Scunthorpe. If he can eventually regain fitness and can maintain that, then he will surely become a valuable asset to Mark Hughes – SURE TO STAY

Martin Petrov - The Bulgarian, reported to have had a “disagreement” with Sparky, has largely been consigned to a watching role this year, although he did make a forceful point to the manager when he notched a couple of goals in a short period of time, including a free-kick in the win against West Ham. He is certainly a useful substitute to have, as his extreme pace can cause problems for opposition defences later in the game, but he will have a job to do in just getting on the pitch, such is the disposal of talent at Hughes’s door. If he doesn’t get much more match time before January, he could be one who tries to force his way out of Eastlands – IN THE BALANCE

Robinho- The mercurial Brazilian started the season brightly, playing a pivotal role in helping City record three successive victories. An ankle injury unfortunately then kept him out for a sustained period and in that time, Craig Bellamy justified Mark Hughes’s faith in him with a string of match-winning performances. Robinho, never one to shy away from headlines, has been incessantly linked with a transfer to European champions Barcelona, although he has pledged his future to the blue side of Manchester. Always capable of producing moments of mind-numbing brilliance, Robinho often infuriates fans with his lacklustre attitude and poor work-rate, but he seems, slowly but surely, to be coming to terms with what is required to be effective at all times in the Premier League. If Barcelona come in with an offer for him, I expect him to be on his way, but then again, he may decide to stay and prove his worth to the team - IN THE BALANCE

Craig Bellamy - I’ve included the Welshman in the midfielders section as he has played most of this season on the left side of midfield, as opposed to his usual role up-front. Hughes raised a few eyebrows when he purchased the fiery Welshman from West Ham, but he had full faith that the qualities and all round play of Bellamy would silence his critics, who focus on his much-maligned reputation. So far this campaign, Bellamy has superbly justified Hughes’s unwavering support, turning in a series of exemplary displays, including scoring two goals in the Manchester derby and providing countless other chances for his teammates. Along with de Jong, he has surely been our best player this season, and it is testament to Bellamy that most City fans would prefer to see him in the team instead of Robinho – SURE TO STAY


Bellamy and de Jong have been City’s two standout performers so far this season

 Strikers

Carlos Tévez - Signed from an unheard of Malaysian side in the summer, the bustling Argentine forward took a while to show his true worth, as he played catch up with the rest of the squad in terms of fitness, having missed pre-season training due to an injury he picked up in the shower in South Africa. I was one of his critics during the early part of this campaign, as his tendency to put his down and run instead of looking up to pass to a teammate infuriated many fans. His shooting has since improved though and he has notched some mightily important goals, including a brace against Bolton. He seems to be improving every time he steps onto the pitch and if he can just learn to pass the ball instead of running with it, then he should prove to be a superb signing - SURE TO STAY

Emmanuel Adebayor - The season started in the best possible way for the Togolose international, when he scored on his debut against Blackburn in the first match of the new campaign. Continuing this form, he went on to notch four goals in as many games as he looked to be living up to all the high expectation. Unfortunately, the turning point for Adebayor’s season came in the match against his former club, Arsenal, at the City of Manchester Stadium. After scoring with a header, he raced up the other end of the pitch towards the visiting fans before celebrating by sliding on his knees. I won’t go into detail in this blog about what happened, having already written in depth about the incident (which can be found here), but suffice to say, in the eyes of many City supporters, this was the catalyst for his poor performances. After serving his suspension, he has not been able to reach the heights of the start of the season, often producing infuriating, lazy and ineffective performances. He needs to buck up his ideas, because City have real quality in reserve with Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz, and with Manu off to the African Cup of Nations, let’s hope that he can recapture his form – SURE TO STAY

Roque Santa Cruz - Signed from Blackburn where he had played under Mark Hughes, Santa Cruz has had to play a more restricted role than he would have liked, mainly sitting on the bench as an understudy to Adebayor. He scored on his debut against Scunthorpe, but suffered an injury against Wigan which kept him out for a couple of weeks. His height and physical presence are sure to be of use to City, especially when Adebayor departs in January to represent his country, although it could be argued that Santa Cruz should be handed his opportunity now, thanks to Adebayor’s lack of form – SURE TO STAY

Benjani- The Zimbabwe striker, who is also due to depart for the African Cup of Nations in January, has played just ten minutes of football for the first team so far this season, coming on as a substitute against Scunthorpe. Whilst all the other strikers remain fit, Benjani, who will forever have a place in City folklore having scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford, won’t get a look-in, and it is likely that he will be moved on in the transfer window – LIKELY TO LEAVE

 
Adebayor and Tévez have had contrasting seasons so far

 

So there it is, the complete review of our squad. Now please give your opinions on how they have performed this season, and where you would strengthen in January. Thanks for reading.

10 Responses to “Man City – The Best Squad In The Premier League?”

  1. Dan Brown Says:

    interesting article, particularly liked the first line: ‘with the january transfer window approaching faster than Eduardo can go to ground’. Very witty

  2. I*T*P*L Says:

    An interesting piece Steven, good to see you back. My view is that you do have on paper one of the top three or four squads in the league, while Birmingham have on paper one of the weakest, but it’s results and league position that count.

    Who do you think Hughes will bring in to replace the few players you expect to leave in January?

    There are a vast number of times when the words run together though, and I know it’s nit-picking, but it’s nit-picking not knit-picking.

  3. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Cheers VJ, everything seemed to be working normally with no words going likethis, and then just as I previewed the article, I found loads!! I hope I have recitified the problem now.

    I expect us to buy a couple of defenders. Neither full-back position is secure, and we may bring someone in to cover for the losses of Touré and Lescott. I’d like a lad called Daniel Van Buyten, who was on loan with us a while ago and is the commanding, powerful centre-back we need. Unfortunately, I think he’s at Bayern Munich now getting regular games in the Champions League, so a move seems unlikely, but money speaks . Otherwise, Hughes is a known admirer of Hangeland, although I’m not so sure where he’d fit in when all our defence is fit.

    Full-back wise, I’d love to see Philip Lahm come in – a truly world class full-back. As you know, I’m a big fan of Clichy but I can’t see him coming.

  4. Plattsy Says:

    A nice report, Steven.

    I must admit that I didn’t think the article started very strongly. There are numerous instances of lack of spaces between two words, which I find is irritating and detracts from the general flow of prose.

    Indeed, I found your second paragraph as one of the least satisfactory paragraphs you have written. ‘Incontestably’ just doesn’t read well in this context, why not ‘undoubtably’? Although, rereading the paragraph I see you use ‘undoubtedly in the next line, so I guess I’ll let you off that..

    Perhaps more seriously, I struggle to make sense of the last sentence in this paragraph. Changing ’such’ for ’some’ makes more sense, but I highly recommend you reshuffle the sentence or, better still, get rid of some of the thousands of commas.

    Contrastingly, your third paragraph is arguably one of the strongest you’ve written, in my opinion. It puts our current situation in perspective, with very nice use of alliteration and names that take me back to my childhood (Terry Cooke!).

    My only other negative point is that I’m not sure your use of ‘accrued’ is entirely accurate in the Onuoha section, despite it being a great word. Again, what’s wrong with a simpler word, or even omitting the word all together?

    The joke in the Sylvinho section is hilarious! I was initially surprised you put Robinho as ‘in the balance’, but I see your logic.

    All in all, a nice article, although a quick proof-read to get rid of those annoying double words would be time well spent.

  5. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    This is so annoying Plattsy. I have re-read and re-read the article umpteen times and can’t find a single example of two words likethis!! Obviously, it’s a problem for my readers, because both you and VJ have had this problem. Can you just point out one example if possible so I can try and work out what is happening. The quicker I’m out of blogsfc and have started my own website, the better!

    I agree with you that ’such’ needs to be replaced by ’some’, but other than that, the sentence still reads perfectly well. ‘Some way, shape or form’ is a common enough phrase. I will consider taking out a couple of the commas.

    Thanks for all the constructive criticism – it can only make me better!

  6. Matt ‘BRING BACK CHED EVANS FOR ADEBAYOR’ Jones Says:

    “he let no-one down, and he made his Premier League debut away to Bolton in a pulsating 3-3 draw. He looked comfortable in possession of the ball, and although doubts still remain about his defensive capabilities, he looks set, in the absence of Bridge, to be given an extended run in the side”

    >>> ABSOLUTE RUBBISH! HE IS DIABOLICAL AND HAS LET ME DOWN IN PARTICULAR! MY GRANDAD WHO HAS HAD A HIP REPLACEMENT LOOKS MORE COMFORTABLE GETTING UP STAIRS THAN SYLVINHO DOES IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?

    “but the end product is often lacking”

    >>> is ALWAYS lacking…

    “If he doesn’t get much more match time before January, he could be one who tries to force his way out of Eastlands”

    >>> Let’s hope he does…he always shoots when he should pass the ball and NEVER tackles or heads the ball…almost as useless as Sylvinho…

    “because City have real quality in reserve with Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz”

    >>> Do we really, Steven???

    Anyway…a nice read although I’m sure there is a player you have missed out!

    BRING ON GUUS HIDDINK!

  7. Steven Goran Eriksson Says:

    Don’t pick on Sylvinho!! He looked alright against Bolton. Very comfortable in possession, had a couple of decent shots. Yes, he struggled against the pace of Lennon but who doesn’t?!?!?!? He’s impressed me so far and we should stick with him until Bridge gets back.

    Santa Cruz is seriously good reserve quality. 17 goals in his first season in this leaue in a poor Blackburn side. He was out for ages before he came to us, he’s started one game in which he scored, and come on in a few more and suddenly you’re saying he’s not good!?!?!? GIVE HIM TIME. HE CAN’T BE WORSE THAN ADEBAYOR AT THE MOMENT!

    Forget Ched – I have. Don’t know how he’ doing at whichever League club he’s at. Never was good enough, never will be

  8. anton ferdinand Says:

    I take that Steve likes Mark Hughes, but we need a manager that has charisma and get attract new players and the respect of current players.

    Mark is an average guy and has no personality.

    He needs to go for us to move on…

  9. Bluemoon Says:

    Zabaleta is no longer in the balance having signed a 4 and a half yer deal to stay.

    Overall a good read but, in his current form, do we really want Adebayor to stay?

  10. antonio ferdinandio Says:

    can we now start giving our new manager the best support we can.

    with the way all other leading clubs are performing , we have a good chance..

    Go for it Mancini, go for it CITY..

Leave a Reply

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.