Cleat Geeks

City need new man to lead squad overhaul


Sunday’s derby defeat could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Manchester City’s owners.

Following a nose-dive in form, City found themselves in 4th place in the table, heading into the match with their fiercest rivals at Old Trafford. With all hopes of challenging Chelsea for the Premier League title having evaporated since the turn of the year, Manuel Pellegrini’s side was facing a season defining clash and a chance to rescue some pride.

Despite taking an early lead, United ran out convincing 4-2 winners, meaning that City have now lost their last four successive away Premier League games. In 2015, City has managed just five wins from 13 league matches, as well as being eliminated from The FA Cup and Champions League, meaning that they will finish the season trophiless.

There can be no question that they are ready for a squad overhaul, but is Pellegrini the right man to build a trophy winning side at The Etihad? Well, in short, no. The Chilean has lacked the transfer acumen needed to improve the squad and, as the core of the team gets older, replacements need to be sought to keep City at the top of the domestic game at least.

Eliaquim Mangala has been Pellegrini’s biggest signing, in terms of transfer fee anyway, at $31.9 million. That was back at the start of the campaign and the French international has failed to justify the price tag. The 24 year-old could be seen as one for the future, but right now he is behind Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis in terms of selection at centre-back.mangala

Mark Hughes signed skipper Kompany in 2008 for around $6 million and Pellegrini bought Demichelis to the Etihad for $4.2 million. The Argentinian international struggled to hold down his place initially, but now he is first choice to partner Kompany at the heart of City’s defence, and is probably one of Pellegrini’s best buys.

But then he’s not up against much competition. The likes of Jesus Navas, Fernando, Mangala, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo cost well over $100 combined but have failed to hold down a first-team place. In fact, Negredo was loaned out to Valencia after a barren second half to last season.jovnegnav

Pellegrini’s latest acquisition was Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony, who bagged an impressive 25 goals in 54 appearances for Swansea, before completing his $28 million move to The Etihad in January. Since then, he’s managed just five league starts, scoring one goal.

There have been some good signings during the South American’s reign, however, Frank Lampard has weighed in with important goals from the bench this season and Fernandinho was an important figure during last campaign’s title win.

But these are not world beating players.

This was highlighted in the two-legged Champions League last 16 tie against Barcelona. The Spaniards dominated both games, home and away, and progressed fairly comfortably in the end. The likes of Navas, Sagna, Jovetic and Mangala were no match for Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Neymar, Suarez and company. dejection

European success seems to be the next step for City’s billionaire owners, who want to turn the club into one of the biggest on the planet. However, at the moment, they are only fourth best in their domestic league.

It hasn’t just been the new signings who have fallen below par for City this season. Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Fernandinho all seem to have struggled after securing the Premier League title last year. Toure, especially, was key, but after the birthday incident, there appeared to be a lack of interest and motivation. The four-time African Player of the Year has been linked with numerous clubs and could be on his way out in the Summer.

yayaLooking at the squad at the moment, there isn’t another midfielder who could match Toure’s 2013/14 performances, and you wouldn’t have too much confidence in Pellegrini finding an able replacement – even with money not being a problem – given his record.

Now, City are just four points above 5th placed Liverpool, and could yet face a battle to finish in the Champions League places for next year. With Arsenal and rivals United both expected to strengthen over the Summer, City have to begin rebuilding their squad. But will Pellegrini be in charge of the checkbook?

Certainly not if they finish the season outside the top four. Even if they do secure Champions League football for next season, with the news that Jurgen Klopp will be leaving Borussia Dortmund in the Summer, City could be able to approach a more than capable replacement to take the club onto the next level.

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