Friday, 11 May 2012

Who's Staying? The Striking Conundrum!

Clearly all City fans are focused on one thing this week, and that is the title showdown on Sunday afternoon.  Personally I have spent most of my time thinking about it, my mood veering between supreme confidence and sheer terror as every hour passes.   I am pretty sure everything that could be written about the game has already been done so, and for that reason I am looking at something all together different today.

As the season draws to a close the transfer rumour mill has been going into over drive, and it seems that one of the positions we will strengthen is up front, and for me, that is a bit of a strange notion.  Goals have hardly been hard to come by, and it must surely mean that one or perhaps two of our strikers are on the way out, so today I will be looking at the relative merits of each, and trying to identify which, if any are surplus to requirements and can be improved upon.

Mario Balotelli - 31 Appearances 17 Goals.

To say that the Italian has been at the centre of a few media storms this season would be an understatement.  It has definitely been a year of highs and lows for the 21 year old, and generally it has been an upward trend in terms of behaviour and performance.  Last year he managed 10 goals in 28 games and so clearly he has been more productive in front of goal and there has been indications of an improved work rate as well, that is not to say that all has been positive.  There have still been indiscretions and although he has risen to the bait less often he has still been riled and picked up a few needless red cards.  He played an important part through the Winter months and scored some vital goals, but sadly his efficiency has wained.  There have been other issues as well, City quite simply don't seem as effective when 'Mad Mario' is on the pitch, it is worth noting that the poor spell that Aguero suffered in front of goal coincided with Balo's run in the team.

Season High - 2 goals at Old Trafford, why always him?
Season Low - Dismissal at the Emirates and his resulting dropping from the team.
Chances of Staying - 7/10 - Mancini likes him, and he has been unplayable at times.  There have been signs of improvement this year over last so for that reason he might get one more chance, but should a decent offer come in, we might be tempted to sell.

John Guidetti - 23 Appearances 20 Goals (on loan at Feyenoord)

It looked like the Swedish international was on the way out last Summer, but the promise of a full season out on loan at a top club convinced him to stay, but now we have a guaranteed goal scorer returning to us and he is hungry for games.  Guidetti is an interesting player, I saw him at reserve level numerous times and was never convinced he had enough in his locker to make it at a top club, but his scoring record in Holland is pretty frightening.  One thing to consider is that he has scored a few penalties in that 20, but considering his young age it has undeniably been a highly successful season for the forward.  He is now saying that he will only return to City if he is guaranteed games, and some have suggested he is already too big for his boots.  Whilst he has been impressive, goals in Holland don't always translate to Premier League success, see Samaras, Kezman and Alfonso Alves.

Season High - Scoring 3 hat tricks in successive games
Season Low - Receiving a second yellow  for removing his shirt after scoring a 2nd goal, only for the opposition to immediately equalise.
Chances of Staying - 5/10 - Could go either way really.  The club like to encourage youth, but if he can't be guaranteed game time he could be on his way.

Sergio Aguero - 45 Appearances 29 Goals

It seems crazy now that some pundits suggested that Aguero would struggle in his first season in the Premier League.  Charlie Nicholas went as far as to say he could be the flop of the season, stating that £38million was 'not value for money', right from his first appearance, these fears have been well and truly banished.  The Argentine has been the focal point of our attack line and he will remain the lynch pin for a long time hopefully.  There have been spells where has struggled, these coinciding with Mario Balotelli having a run in the team, but other than that he has scored goals at regular intervals.  One of the most refreshing things about the 23 year old is that he has the right attitude, something that many of the worlds top players do not possess.  His partnership with Edin Dzeko towards the start of the season was extremely fruitful, and now that the Bosnian has been more or less sidelined, he is working well with his compatriot Tevez, identifying the correct partner for Kun is vital and I can only see him continuing to improve.  I just wish he would shoot from distance more often, since when he does, the ball usually ends up in the back of the net!

Season High - That goal at Norwich was an absolute stunner.
Season Low - Nope, can't think of one.
Chances of Staying - 9/10 - There were reports linking him with a move to Real, but to me those seem wide of the mark, he seems happy, his family seem happy and we have no reason to sell!

Edin Dzeko - 39 Appearances 19 Goals

It seems crazy to me that a striker who has notched up 19 goals could be criticised, but that is just how some City fans are.  To be fair the giant Bosnian can frustrate, at times he looks poor, very poor, his touch can let him down, he can look sluggish and sadly disinterested.  At other times however he looks like someone that could be a prolific goalscorer in any league, and at the start of the season that is just how he appeared.  To say that he divides opinion would be an understatement, but one thing that I don't think anyone could question is the fact that the 26 year old is clearly a confidence player.  When he has a run of games he looks twice as effective, even more so when the goals are flowing, but when he comes in and out of the team he struggles somewhat.  Personally I am a fan and think that if we had some decent wingers and provided him with better service he would prosper and become a really strong 'plan b', but I don't deny that at times he does struggle in our set up, Dzeko is a player that comes alive in the penalty area, having to come deep to pick up the ball (which is our bread and butter) isn't really playing to his strengths.

Season High - Scoring 4 at White Hart Lane, his 4th goal was a season highlight.
Season Low - Getting stroppy when substituted in Munich.
Chances of Staying - 3/10 - Personally I would like him to remain, but I just don't see it, he wants to be playing regularly and I can't see that happening at City under the leadership of Mancini.

Carlos Tevez - 10 Appearances 4 Goals

Where to begin with this one?  I suppose the first thing to say is that I think Tevez is our best striker, I dislike him with a passion, but in terms of footballing ability I genuinely believe he is the best we have.  Does that mean he deserves to stay though?  As far as I am concerned, not a chance.  Some may be quick to forgive him for that night in Munich, but that is something I can't bring myself to do.  If that was his only discretion then maybe, but the bottom line is that his actions that night were the latest in a string of incidents that showed no respect for the club or the people that pay his frankly obscene wages.  The undeniable truth though is that he has got us out of somewhat of a hole, his return to the team has coincided with an upturn in performances and I don't think the 2 are unrelated.  His work rate since his 'holiday' are just as high as ever, and he is performing well, but how long will it last?  The cynic in me thinks he only returned on the promise of a quick sale this Summer, but the words coming from player and club suggest different.  I just hope the man that has the final say on the future of Tevez is Roberto Mancini and not the power brokers in Abu Dhabi.

Season High - His hat-trick at Carrow Road was the day he was welcomed back into the hearts of (most) City fans.
Season Low - His refusal to play/warm up in Munich will forever blight him.
Chances of Staying - 6/10 - Part of me believes his return was to bring about a move this Summer, it was beneficial to both parties, but maybe he will finally realise there is nowhere better to be playing?

Emmanuel Adebayor - 35 Appearances 17 Goals (on loan at Tottenham)

The frustration with Manu is that if he consistently demonstrated the application and endeavour he shows when he first joins a club he would be a top top striker, but sadly he can't/won't do that.  Ade and Mancini have seemingly never got along, and there is simply no way back for him at Eastlands.  If we can't find a buyer, another season out on load is a near certainty.

Chances of Staying - 0/10 - There is more chance of Joey Barton signing this Summer.

Roque Santa-Cruz - 21 Appearances 5 Goals (on loan at Betis)

I always felt sorry for RSC; Mark Hughes was desperate to sign him and spent a most ridiculous sum to bring him to City, he was injured pretty much his whole time at the club and he never got going.  When he did play he showed passion and commitment (unlike Adebayor), but he simply wasn't and isn't good enough for us.

Chances of Staying - 0/10 - There is more chance of Joey Barton signing and Jo returning this Summer.

That pretty much rounds off all the strikers available to us, and to be honest we have a wealth of quality options open to us; that is the reason that I am always so surprised to see us being linked with further reinforcements up front.  I think the end is nigh for Edin Dzeko sadly, as much as I would like him to remain I just can't help but feel that the writing is on the wall.  As for Carlos Tevez, well things could go either way on that, and I wouldn't like to make a further prediction on his future.  Should Dzeko leave, and should Guidetti not be deemed good enough for us next season, I suppose we could do with one more forward.  Names in the ring seem to be Robin Van Persie and Napoli man Edinson Cavani.  Personally I prefer the man from Uruguay who has notched up 32 goals this campaign, a deal would be expensive to finance, but seeing whether they would take Adebayor in return could be a good place to start.

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