Friday, 17 June 2011

Can we focus on our weakest area for a while?

Do we really need another central defender?  Whilst fans of other clubs who don't watch very much Manchester City could 'hilariously' point out, yes we do, so Mancini can field 5 across the back to go with his 3 defensive midfield players.  Rubbish jibes aside, why are we continually linked with new centre backs when there is another gaping hole in our side?

Today sees reports from a couple of different media outlets linking us with Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini..lets quickly run through members of our squad capable of playing in that position: Kompany, Lescott, Toure, Boyata, Boateng, Onuoha, Richards, Wabara and at a push Yaya Toure.  Even if a couple of those players were to move, whether it be on loan or permanently, we still have more than enough to get by.  When the Gary Cahill rumours went quiet, I for one was pretty pleased, I saw no reason for us to strengthen in that area, our defensive record is good, but that doesn't mean the entire backline is solid.

We started this season with Kolarov as first choice left back, with Jerome Boateng also (supposedly) comfortable playing there.  By the end of the season however, I think most City fans were happiest with right back Zabaleta playing on the left side of the defense.  The Serbian defender has had a difficult time this season, and it is strange to me how highly regarded he was before we bought him, supposedly we did battle with Real Madrid to secure his signature.  The 25 year old cost a lofty £16million and he arrived with high expectations, it hasn't quite yet panned out however.

I am not writing the defender off and saying he should be sold, but it is a clear weakness in our side and one that I think really should be addressed.  He arrived with a reputation for being an attacking fullback, and maybe if the offensive side of his game was more impressive we could justify his shaky defensive displays, but he isn't much better coming forward.  His distribution isn't the best, and he doesn't appear quick enough for the Premier League.  He was also lauded as being a set piece expert and also possessing a wicked shot, well he may have managed 3 goals (one of which was a superb free kick against Birmingham) but those pale into insignificance when you consider all the opportunities he has wasted taking on shots from 30 yards out when there have been other options available to him, his delivery from set pieces isn't much better either.

Perhaps surprisingly however I do think there is ability in the player, and I hope we do keep hold of him.  There were some signs of improvement over the closing months of the season and I think with more time in the squad he could develop his game and perhaps become more positionally aware, and possibly more aware of his defensive duties.  That isn't to say however that I think we should go into next season with him as first choice, I think he is good backup but he isn't good enough yet for a team chasing major honours.

Identifying replacements is not particularly straight forward, I think it is time that we had a full back who's main priority is to defend as opposed to attack.  Previously we have been closely linked to Leighton Baines and I think that deal may still come off, but I do have questions about the defensive side of his game, clearly he wouldn't come cheap either and that may put Mancini off somewhat.  Fabio Coentrao and Juan Vargas are other left full backs that we have been linked with but the fact they can both also be used as left wingers puts me off somewhat.

I am not writing this to propose a solution to the left back problem, and it would be better if I did, but one thing is for sure, whilst making moves for Sanchez, Eto'o, Chiellini or whoever else we will be linked too is fantastic, I still can't help but feel that we should be making the left back slot one of our main priorities.

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