Well when your side is screaming out for a centre half, why not simply go out and sign a centre midfielder who’s lost his pace and has struggled with injuries for 3 seasons. Yes, Roberto Mancini seems to think that by signing a creaky Patrick Vieira, it’ll help shore up a leaky defence. 5 years ago, Viera was clearly one of the best centre midfielders in Europe, but his four years in Italy have seen his reputation decline.
Whilst certainly not past it by any stretch of the imagination, I cannot believe Vieira can cope with the pace of Premiership football any more. I know his move is motivated by being a regular starter for France, but he hasn’t started a competitive game for Les Blues since August 2007 and I do not see the benefit of disrupting the midfield pairing of Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong.
It also sends a signal that the manager has no confidence in his midfield anchor men, when Manchester City’s back four have been far more culpable for their weaknesses this season. Barry and De Jong have been amongst City’s better performers this season, and for all the spin that has accompanied Mancini’s victories against Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, it’s doubtful that City wouldn’t have won those games with Mark Hughes in charge.
It seems like City are entering that dimension that Real Madrid lived in where players are signed on reputation rather than ability and the wisdom in signing Vieira will become clearer over the next few weeks. The warning signs are there though with Vieira’s total appearances over the last 3 and a half seasons at Internazionale totals 72 games in all competitions. Italian football is not the high paced, frenetic standard of the Premiership and I don’t think Vieira will be able to cope.
By all means, Vieira was one of the stand out midfielders in world football during his spell at Arsenal, of that there is absolutely no doubt. Yet Wenger’s transfer policy of removing older players before they deteriorate at Arsenal has yet to blow up in his face. Remember everyone banging on about what a great pair of signings Adebayor and Toure were in the summer? They’ve strangely gone quiet already. Adebayor’s 6 goals this season and the leakiest defence in the Premierships top ten seem to once again back Wengers judgement.
Of course, the additional revenue that Vieira will bring through shirt sales will be the only thing that Gary Cook will be interested in. The ability the cover the wage package of apparently £140,000 a week won’t be overly important to the owners but surely the value has to be on the pitch. We’re not talking about a David Beckham icon here, we’re talking about a man who can’t get in the worse French team in 15 years. Vieira struggled to cope with the recovery period in his spell at Arsenal when he was at his prime, so I’ve no idea how he can cope with the demands it’ll put on him now.
Mourinho has been deploying him solely as a defensive midfielder, but he still tries to play his old role and gets caught out of position, he hasnt got the pace to get back and he lacks the tenacity to fly in to the tackles like he used to. He’s earned rave reviews for his last Inter performance against Chievo, but come on, it’s hardly the Milan derby is it. I just don’t see the wisdom of the signing, I just feel it’ll tarnish one of the best midfielders in Premiership history’s legacy and that would be a shame.