As they approach, once again, the 100 million pound mark in the transfer market, Manchester City and head coach Roberto Mancini still find facets of their team to dislike. Yet, for a team still searching for a striker to add to an already formidable attack, much respect is already deserved to what appears to be the most dangerous attacking third in the Premier League.
For title-winning clubs in the Premier League, the magic number of points is about 90. For the Citizens, not only is 90 a desire in the category points, but a high aim to shoot for in the category of goals scored. While Chelsea managed to hit the back of the net 103 times in 2009, City mustered up a total of 73, six behind fourth place finisher Tottenham. The unwritten answer may appear as a necessity of a more formidable defense, but for Sheikh Al-Mansour, the answer to defensive mishaps is millions of pounds worth of pure shot-firing, free-kick taking, goal scoring material.
With the likes of World Cup winner David Silva added and Robinho back in the squad that so eagerly marooned him last January, a strong attack once helmed by Mark Hughes’ brainchild Craig Bellamy and Sven Goran-Erikkson’s favorite overpriced Brazilian Jo now places the two strikers likely on their way out riding the bench, and possibly not making Mancini’s 25-man registered team.
Depth is something never lacking in a strong team, and the new look City team speaks nothing but the same. Starting with Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez up front, who combined last year to score 43 goals for the Blues, more than half of their total goals in Premier League competitions. If three or even four men are preferred for Mancini’s tactical mind, or maybe just the scarf has been cutting of the circulation, the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Robinho, and even Silva who has never hesitated to play up front all wait for their cracks at goal. Silva, who played few minutes for Spain in the World Cup campaign, came over to Eastlands for 30 million pounds, but this time plans on not letting himself be outshined by the likes of David Villa, who outscored him at Valencia in 2009, as well as in South Africa. With a determined Silva, a punishing Bellamy, and rejuvenation seasons from Santa Cruz and Robinho, the attack will be more dominant than ever.
At City, versatility is a key in the strength to attack. As is becoming the trend in most of European football, Mancini prefers to play a game with wingers on their opposite sides and the usual one or two strikers. Most often, an attacking midfielder will end up in the middle, in front of powerhouse defensive midfielder (and dropkick extraordinaire) Nigel de Jong and now the Premier League’s newest brother combination, the Toures. For the most part, that position is filled by the likes of Gareth Barry, but it seems there is hope for the likes of Stephen Ireland after strong preseason performances, and the acquisition of Villa’s James Milner still could be lying in the waits, as Martin O’Neil’s midfield slowly migrates its entirety to the blue side of Manchester. From the inside spreads wide where the depth and strength of the title hopefuls exemplifies itself even further. Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Vladimir Weiss fill the wings in, while preseason looks and prior remembrance shows Mancini’s willingness to play Robinho, Bellamy, Ireland, and Silva (his natural position, nonetheless) out wide feeding the ball back inside to duly nicknamed Carlos “Energizer bunny” Tevez and Emmanuel “Fear my goal celebrations” Adebayor. The fun isn’t done there for City, though.
In recent weeks and months, many a name has been thrown around the transfer mill at Eastlands, the most promising of those including Inter Milan wonderkid Mario Balotelli, Don Garber’s favorite lover Landon Donovan, Fernando Torres, and the one last name I can’t pronounce in Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko. The possibility of adding the talents of one of the above to an already formidable attack could put City over the top. With those additions plus the likes of an improving come January, the power of an attacking Manchester City could provide a shock in this year’s Premier League.