Roberto Mancini has been frustrated in his attempt to strengthen his squad so far this summer as the club bid to retain their league title over the course of the coming campaign, but where exactly do the side need to strengthen?
It’s worth remembering that City only managed to secure the title in the final minute of last season courtesy of a Sergio Aguero pearler – there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between them and a Nemanja Vidic-less Manchester United side and their rivals will certainly be stronger this season, so investment is required.
The Italian manager all but chucked in the towel in the club’s pursuit of Arsenal striker Robin van Persie last week and it would appear that their rivals have moved ahead of them in the fight for his signature, simply due to their inability to shift Emmanuel Adebayor off their wage bill – but do they really need another striker at all?
Carlos Tevez is about as flaky as they come, but he featured just 13 times in the league last term and now that he appears to be reasonably happy and with a burgeoning partnership with Aguero up top, he is like a brand new signing. Mario Balotelli may be somewhat bonkers, but there’s no denying his quality, while Edin Dzeko is more than capable of providing decent back-up.
It’s when you look at the rest of the squad that you begin to question the relative depth to up front, an area they’ve targeted to strengthen above all else. There’s a few players that need to be moved on, such as Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz, while the likes of Adam Johnson, Kolo Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov have all been strongly linked with moves away after being marginalised last term. To my knowledge, the links to Liverpool centre-half Daniel Agger certainly make a lot of sense, as Stefan Savic proved last term that he doesn’t quite look like he’s got what it takes yet to play for such a big club and he’s pretty poor in the air.
They were outmanoeuvred by PSG in the race for Thiago Silva and you suspect that Mancini has earmarked Agger because he’s left-footed and capable of keeping that balance alongside Vincent Kompany. Joleon Lescott did an excellent job last season, but if he or Kompany were to get injured for a prolonged period, then you’d have to worry with either Toure or Savic stepping in.
The fact of the matter is that the Manchester City squad doesn’t have quite the same strength in depth that you’d imagine it would considering their wealth and status as reigning champions. In centre-midfield, Yaya Toure, Nigel De Jong, Gareth Barry and James Milner more than make up the numbers but it’s just ahead of them and out wide where they also look a player or two light.
The system which proved so successful last season was heavily-reliant on David Silva playing well and he played in 36 of their 38 league last season, with Mancini seemingly reluctant to rest him, even in games that they surely would have won without him and their dip in form coincided with Silva’s own personal one.
He could do with back-up, or someone else to help lighten the load on him in creating space and chances for the forward further ahead of him, as could Samir Nasri, which is why I find it quite baffling that City didn’t get involved in the race for Santi Cazorla, especially at such an affordable and reasonable price.
On the flanks, Adam Johnson is far from first choice and doesn’t appear to have the full faith of Mancini, but if reports are to be believed, the club have nearly agreed a deal to sign Swansea’s Scott Sinclair, with Johnson on his way out of the club. On face value, that seems a silly deal and while I consider them to both be much of a muchness, they need another winger regardless of whether they keep Johnson and sign Sinclair or not.
The club missed out on Eden Hazard to Chelsea earlier in the transfer window and they’ve seemed reluctant to battle for the respective signatures of both Luka Modric and Hulk with Chelsea and Real Madrid, while Ezequiel Lavezzi would have been ideal. They’ve been linked with the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Sebastian Giovinco in the past and it’s someone of this calibre that they require, not just because they’re a star name and would signal a statement of intent, but because the squad isn’t as strong in these creative areas as you’d first think.
Manchester City go into the new season as slight favourites ahead of their rivals United for the title, but they’ve been slow in the transfer market so far and simply haven’t got their business done early enough. There’s no denying that there’s not an excellent starting eleven there, the best on show in the top flight, but dig a little deeper and there isn’t much else to show for their investment. They need to be proactive as opposed to merely reactive and even if they don’t spend a lot, they could do with a few extra bodies after moving on the deadwood.
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