Things I Learnt About City This Week
Joe Hart is arguably the best keeper in the world. His displays against Real Madrid, Dortmund and in general in the League have been nothing short of incredible. Admittedly Mancini`s change of emphasis in midfield (more of that later) has had the defence under the cosh and creaking more than they have in the last twelve months, but Hart`s agility and ability to get to balls he truly shouldn`t has been nothing short of breath-taking. His post-match attitude, his on field demeanour and his overall attitude is absolutely spot on and combined with his training ethic and his undeniable ability make him a truly valuable commodity to City. A keeper not even at his peak yet and with at least another ten years at the top make him truly priceless. If Messi and Ronaldo can score goals and win games, Hart is at the same level as them in terms of stopping goals and keeping his team in with a chance every game. If Messi and Ronaldo are worth £80 plus, what price Joe Hart.
Most of Mancini`s buys this closed season were second choice and clearly have affected the team. Sinclair hasn`t played enough to pass judgement on but when he has played he doesn`t seem to be a great improvement on Johnson, although attitude wise he can`t be worse. Nastasic is probably the best buy judging by his calmness at making his debut against Real Madrid. He has pace and positioning as well as being good in the air. Garcia is no De Rossi and whilst he is a good technician and footballer, his inclusion in the side has put pressure on the defence as he wants to play too much and often gets caught in possession. Rodwell will be a great player but he is clearly not ready for the pressure and intensity that comes with playing for The Champions. Two schoolboy errors against QPR and Dortmund both cost goals although it can be argued that Mancini`s tinkering with the starting line-up and formation is the root cause of this which leads me on to my next point.
Mancini is in danger of becoming the new 'Tinkerman`. Last season City won the League with a stalwart defence and a free scoring attack borne out of the formation he played. Two defensive midfielders sitting in front of defence allowing the attacking players freedom to attack and the defence a helping hand when needed. These two have to be great positionally, aware and defensively minded with the ability to read the game and distribute the simple ball. This season Mancini has wanted to supplement the attack at the loss of a defensively minded midfielder and often resorted to 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 rather than the 4-2-3-1 he used successfully last year. This has led to being knocked out of the cup, seen the defence leak too many goals in the league and lose a game against Real Madrid that should have been won.
Bye-bye Mario! Taken off after 55 minutes having been spectacular in his diving and pretty dismal at everything else our sulky striker strode down the tunnel without as much as a look at the bench, missed Aguero doing what he should have done within two minutes of being on the pitch and boarded a plane for Italy. I know Mancini sees the striker as his 'responsibility`, but his attitude and level of maturity is startlingly low. I think it is time to replace him with someone that wants to play for City, is willing to put in a shift wherever he is asked to play and can score the goals the club needs to win the League and the Champions League. Whether if be someone like Falcao who Mancini watched this week or whether we give a chance to Guidetti who is chomping at the bit to play is another question to ponder, but I think Mario has had enough chances and it`s high time he paid the price for his actions rather than being protected by Mancini and the club.
My final point is to praise another player seemingly as important as Joe Hart but with far fewer accolades and that man is Gareth Barry. He may not possess the pace or long passing ability of other players and plays with a no frills style that often gets over looked. But his positional sense, his ability to read the game and cover for his team mates, his determination and ability to hold onto the ball, his distribution and intelligence make him key for City. City`s domination of Sunderland at the weekend was partly down to him. He helped out the defence, kept possession of the ball and almost always found a Blue shirt. People don`t notice his work but if you watch him during a game you will see that the shift he puts in would put many top footballers to shame.
all times East Manchester
Sa 20 Oct 15h00 West Brom, The Hawthorns, PL
We 24 Oct 19h45 Ajax, Amsterdam Arena, CL
Sa 27 Oct 17h30 Swansea City, The Etihad, PL
Sa 03Nov 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park, PL
Tu 06 Nov 19h45 Ajax, The Etihad, CL
Su 11 Nov 13h30 Spurs, The Etihad, PL
Sa 17 Nov 15h00 Aston Villa, The Etihad, PL
We 21 Nov 19h45 Real Madrid, The Etihad, CL
Su 25 Nov 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, PL
We 28 Nov 20h00 Wigan, DW Stadium, PL