Pep Guardiola has already given us the first glimpses of his tactical revolution at Manchester City.
Gone are the days of Pellegrini’s 4-4-2 or predictable 4-2-3-1, players are cropping up in unexpected positions and performing exceptionally in roles that other managers would not have even considered them for.
Guardiola, for any lover of football tactics, is a fascinating manager. Manchester City already look a starkly different team from last year, their shape has changed and players are producing performances well above the level that we may have seen last season (looking at you, Raheem).
One player who could become a vital pawn within Guardiola’s tactical jiggery-pokery is Fernandinho. The Brazilian midfielder was one of the few bright sparks for Manchester City, as he continues to prove himself as one of the world’s great late bloomers.
His rounded game makes it completely feasible that Fernandinho could be moved around the team by Pep. It’ll be interesting anyway, that’s for sure.
Which of these four roles to you expect to see Fernandinho in?
If Ilkay Gundogan continues to suffer such injury problems, Fernandinho may continue in his current role at the pace of the midfield.
Whilst still having the pace and energy to break the lines with his runs from deep, the Brazilian is there to tick over possession and guard against potential counter-attacks from the opposition.
Even once Fernando returns, Guardiola will stick with the former Shakhtar man due to his eye for a pass.
Fernandinho has all the attributes to play right-back. His engine is a big part of his game and would make easy work of the distances that they are asked to cover in a Guardiola side. Particularly with Zabaleta reaching the veteran stage of his career, it’s entirely feasible that Fernandinho will fill in on the odd occasion.
However, it’s quite easy to envisage Fernandinho making that role his own. Perhaps playing in a similar way to David Alaba, he could move into a deeper central-midfield role when the Citizens have prolonged possession and contribute offensively from that position.
Guardiola has a somewhat un-English way of approaching the centre-backs. His possession-orientated demands mean that everyone needs to be comfortable on the ball and one way he has assured this is to use central midfielders in that position.
Alex Song, Javier Mascherano and Javi Martinez have all been transitioned into regular starting central defenders at the Spaniard’s previous clubs.
There’s no reason why Fernandino couldn’t become another, particularly if they use a 3-3-3-1 formation as was often seen at Bayern Munich.
This one is far more obvious and will probably be seen when Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva aren’t available.
When at his best, Fernandinho is given permission to cover every area of the pitch, allowing his all-action game to really dominate the opposition midfield.
Although he has often has to play with defensive responsibility when alongside Fernandinho, the return to fitness of the injury prone Ilkay Gundogan may see the Brazilian allowed to opportunity to roam.