This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Manchester City really do have an unfortunate knack of seeing players pick up long-term injuries don’t they? Pep Guardiola’s side have already seen Leroy Sane fall victim to an ACL injury, and now the club have confirmed Aymeric Laporte has undergone surgery on his knee after damaging his cartilage and lateral meniscus.
But perhaps Laporte’s setback may be the shot in the arm the club needs for this season. Injuries are never nice – particularly long ones – but they can often bring a team together. For all the talk about footballers these days being multi-million pound earning show-offs, they do form a family connection with their teammates. If one goes down, they all feel the pain.
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So, whilst City may be left ruing the Frenchman’s absence, it could have the consequence of re-energising the squad. Retaining the league has always been seen as a very difficult thing to achieve, far more so than winning it the first time. Guardiola’s men have done it back-to-back, which only increases the chances of them potentially losing their edge and desire on the third try.
Before the Citizens retained the title last season, no side had achieved that feat since Cristiano Ronaldo was tearing things up for Manchester United back in the 2008/2009 campaign. In the ultra-competitive nature of the Premier League, the proverbial target on the champions’ back has been difficult to shake off. The fact City are now looking for a three-peat means everybody and their mother will be looking to take them down.
Having lost Vincent Kompany over the summer, and now Laporte to a major injury, the chips are already down for Guardiola’s side. They have just two fully-fit centre-backs to choose from in Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones, and neither were first-team starters towards the back-end of the last campaign.
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But whilst the injury could reinvigorate City’s squad as a whole, the likes of Otamendi and Stones in particular could step their own game up in a bid to silence the doubters. It’s the kind of added motivation that the Manchester side might need to sharpen their minds and re-focus on the task at hand.
So whilst it may be all doom and gloom in the immediate aftermath of the news surrounding Laporte, it could just turn out to have a very silver lining indeed. They did it last season after De Bruyne’s lengthy lay-offs, and now it could be City’s time to do it all over again for the Frenchman too.