Manchester Demolition Derby Shows How Much Change Needed At City

Posted: April 13, 2015 in Football
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City Practice

City’s derby day defeat to Manchester United showed their deficiencies

Another season nears the end in the Premier League, and for the second consecutive year we have seen the champions of the previous campaign make a rotten attempt at trying to retain their title.

After David Moyes’ rancid reign at Manchester United last season, attention turned to their city rivals this year; and now it is Manchester City’s turn to have their focus shifted to merely trying to achieve Champions’ League qualification, as opposed to defending the title they worked so hard for last year.

While City’s defense has not been quite as poor as United’s last season in that at one point in the season they were actually in contention at some point – having been tied with Chelsea at the top at the turn of the year – focus has turned to them now due to their alarming tail off in the second half of the season, with City now having suffered defeat in eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Defeats to Barcelona, Arsenal and even Manchester United could be forgiven in truth as they are all stellar opposition, while the odd slip up against the likes of Crystal Palace and Burnley could be expected to happen at some point, but it is the manner in which City have suffered these defeats that really raises cause for concern.

Football is a reactionary game and one has to steer clear of hyperbole at times when a side goes through an indifferent run of form, but it is, and has been all season, clear that there are some heavy flaws in this Manchester City side that needs addressing over the summer.

Sunday’s 4-2 hammering at the hands of their local rivals was a bitter pill to swallow after a recent dominance in this fixture, not only for the result, but for the performance as a whole.


Manuel Pellegrini looks to be on his way out this summer

First of all, the manager looks like he may require changing, something that seems almost inevitable given how far backwards City have slipped over the past 12 months. Roberto Mancini lost his job after he failed to retain the title or improve on City’s Champions’ League showing and Manuel Pellegrini has suffered an even worse second season at the Etihad helm.

I’m a fan of Pellegrini, but he appears a manager more suited to keeping a good thing going, as opposed to overturning a poor run of form. He is simply not a motivational character and some of the body language on show at Old Trafford simply suggested that certain players are not willing to put in the effort without a serious push.

With their Champions’ League campaign also disappearing with a whimper, Pellegrini looks almost certain to face the sack upon the conclusion to the campaign, but he should not be the only one ushered out of the door if the new incumbent to the throne is to enjoy any better luck next season.

Many a point has been made in regards to the average age of the City squad, but it is something worth repeating again as it has shown very little forward planning on behalf of their scouting department, with the vast majority of acquisitions being players very much at the peak of their abilities, with the future only ever promising a decline.

Fernandinho has been the prime example of this over the course of the 2014/15 season, with an excellent debut season having been followed up with a poor second, having been signed at the age of 28 from Shakhtar Donetsk 21 months ago and already looking a shadow of the player they spent an eye-watering £34million on.

With other key assets such as Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure having also suffered indifferent seasons this time around after incredible efforts last time around, this has left just David Silva and Sergio Aguero still performing at a high level. But much like the house built on sand, their efforts are merely pointless with a solid foundation operating behind them.

Mangala at City

The signing of Mangala is just one of many bungled transfer decisions by City over the past two years.

The signing of Eliaquim Mangala always seemed doomed to fail, with the £30m+ defender having consistently looked out of his depth in the Premier League. Whilst I cannot claim to have been a regular viewer of Portuguese football, I did see the French defender in a Europa League match for Porto against Sevilla last season, and unfortunately his performances so far for City have come as little surprise, with an error strewn display having made quite the impression that evening.

That Martin Demichelis, signed purely to provide ample back-up, has once again been forced to play a leading role in the City back four is testament to how City have struggled defensively this campaign, with only Burnley having kept fewer clean sheets on their travels at this late stage.

Against United, City were a complete shambles at the back, with Gail Clichy notably culpable for United’s first half turn-around, before errors from Demichelis and Mangala allowed United to run riot and effectively ensure Aguero’s 100th goal for City was a mere footnote in a story that saw United reclaiming the position of top dogs in the city of Manchester.

Lazy performances in midfield from Fernandinho, Toure and Jesus Navas ensured the defence was left isolated but for the back-tracking of James Milner and it is clear that things need to change at the Etihad this summer if their are to mount a credible challenge to Chelsea’s (let’s face it, they’ve won it) Premier League crown next season.

The unfortunate thing for City is that they signed a lot of these players for big money, but with their increasing ages and waning influence on games, they will now have to take a serious hit on these players to move them on for fresher faces.

With Financial Fair Play rulings further restricting City in their transfer dealings unless they are able to recoup money on expensive flops or disruptive influences, there is every reason to suggest that it will not only be the playing and coaching staff that will be reviewed, with the lack of foresight among the technical directors and board members having ensured City have not been able to gain a stranglehold on a division they should well have dominated by this point.

The close season will see most eyes focus on goings on at both Manchester clubs, but with United requiring a few minor tweaks currently to a squad that has really begun to look a threat ahead of next season, it is City who need a big overhaul of the club from top to bottom if they are to bounce back with a much stronger challenge for the 2015/16 season.


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