Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday November 23 2007
Here come eight games inside five weeks, Blues. Before it all kicks off with the visit of Coppell and Reading, let's have a look at who could be leading the MCFC line in 2008.
If we can maintain a top five position by New Years Eve and progress further in the League Cup, then a beyond our wildest dreams push for Europe is seriously on.
Frank S and Sven mean business. That's been clear from day one and actions always speak louder than words. We are third in the league on merit. Consolidation is key now. Our relatively small squad must stay generally injury free, work as a unit and keep on board the lessons learned at Chelski a month ago.
For us to realistically crack on through the winter months we need City strikers firing on all cyclinders. A pre-requisite for any club that aims to realise it's ambitions.
Before I go on, I still say that in order for our strikers to score more regularly, Sven must eventually consider 4-4-2, once he is happy that the squad is settled.
With one eye on the January window of transfer opportunity, let's look at the options we currently have and at some of the strikers repeatedly media linked with MCFC:
Strikers Out On Loan:
Paul Dickov - A City legend for the goal that saved us from oblivion in 1999 but way past his sell by date in the Premier League. Could his love for the Blues and vast experience see him offered a backroom roll after his Crystal Palace loan spell ends?
Ishmael Miller - On fire for West Brom in The Championship, but some Blues suggest he has found his level. An Academy product with time on his side and very much a pal of exisiting City graduates. I think his future chances at City could be limited depending on how the rest of our season goes.
Bernardo Corradi - Easily one of Pearce and Wigley's worst signings, now farting about at Parma. He'll be remembered for his one paced, relentlessly offside game plan and his embarrassing goal celebrations with Newcastle United legend Joey Barton. He has a lovely girlfriend and I'm sure she'd like to see him leave City forever. I agree.
Leading The Line Currently:
Georgios Samaras - Let's get this one out of the way, first. This expensive 'uncut diamond' (Pearcespeak) has come to resemble a basketball player who got lost around Sportcity and tripped over some football boots, invariably his own. For me, barring an injury crisis, enough is enough and the likeable lad from Greece cannot be relied upon as part of a side intent on achieving it's objectives this season. We cannot afford passengers and he's going in January, I'm sure of it.
Darius Vassell - Ready, willing and able to reach the penalty area, then fluff his lines. He works extremely hard, sometimes opting to take himself on rather than pass/cross and I am worried that if he loses his biggest asset, that electric pace, he'll be finished at this level. This is a vital month for Vassell and he needs to deliver consistency and goals quickly if he is to stay at City.
Emile Mpenza - Mpenza's chance signing and goals saved us last season. Nobody can deny this lad has a big engine and a terrific work rate. He puts himself about to great effect but needs a strike partner to play off. I do not think he is ideally suited to the role of a lone striker but his experience and strength when fit, make him an important squad member.
Rolando Bianchi - High time the Italian was given a long run in the side and now is the time to accede to that, Sven. We know what all our other strikers are capable off, so why not Bianchi? In flashes he has shown great promise and passion. He won every header and mixed it up when he came on against Sunderland recently. We scored shortly after his introduction and his reward was a couple of minutes at Pompey. It's now or never. Maybe his hunger and some regular action will combine to reap rewards.
The Unlucky But Essential:
Daniel Sturridge - Woefully neglected under Pearce who stuck with Samaras, Crappadi and co. An exciting talent who Chelski were sniffing around a year or two ago. The lad has suffered a bad hip injury and remains sidelined but our future is essentially bright with the likes of Sturridge coming through. Our Academy production line must keep running at all costs.
Valeri Bojinov - Now you're talking. I can't wait to see this fearless lad get stuck in for City. His raging bull performances in Serie A have been stunning and his almost demonic goal celebrations if repeated in Manchester, could set Eastlands alight. He has time on his side after that terrible injury against the rags and he must come back carefully in order to avoid long term problems. My spies tell me he is already excitedly putting cones out at Carrington but his continued absence and unpredictability of a return mean we may have to make a move for a striker in January.
Strikers Coming In?
Afonso Alves of Heerenveen. Age: 27, Brazilian - Heavily liked with City throughout the season the Brazilian international has been in cracking form, scoring 34 goals in 31 games last term and hit the net seven times in one match against Heracles this season. But with respect, that's in Holland. The Premier League affords little space to strikers as Samaras will testify. Could he cut it at City?
Julio Baptista of Real Madrid. Age: 26, Brazilian - Seen more as an attacking midfielder or a second striker, the former Arsenal loan star has been touted for The Blues but I see him heading to Spurs and his former Sevilla gaffer, Juande Ramos. A lone striker role with us is definitely not for him.
Asamoah Gyan of Udinese. Age: 22, Ghanaian - A surprise link who has told the Italian press that a deal with City is very close. A big lad by all accounts, but hardly the experienced proven ability we need to push for Europe this season.
Nicolas Anelka of Bolton Wanderers. Age: 28, French - Let's not go there, Sven and 70% of the visitors to our site agree with me. Ticks all the right boxes, experience, goals and pace but carries more baggage than Finglands coaches. Now with his seventh club, his cowardly downing of tools before departure under Mad Kev still irritates. That and the risk of him destabilising our dressing room make him a non restarter at MCFC.
Peter Crouch of Liverpool. Age 26, English - Something isn't right at Liverpool under Rafa Benitez and Sven will be monitoring. He has the best ball control I have seen on a tall man since Niall Quinn and knowing his history with Sven a move to City cannot be ruled out. We would certainly have more options with him on board.
Adriano of Inter Milan. Age 25, Brazilian - A loose cannon we should steer clear of. An undoubted talent but alledged heavy drinking requiring drying out at a fitness camp amongst a series of misdemeanours surely rule him out of The Sven Revolution.
Do you think City should move for a striker in January or gamble on 'The Boj' being back in action sooner rather than later?
Seen Michael Owen hobbling along Ashton New Road? Give us your views, Blues.
Date:Friday November 23 2007
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