So I wake up this morning, a day off for me. I fire up the laptop, check the news, and see that Manchester City’s splash signing, Edin Dzeko, would have preferred signing with Juventus according to his agent. You have to put two and two together, since that article doesn’t do it for you, but the Juventus offer was less than Manchester City’s offer, so it wasn’t money that lured him to City, it was desperation.
Over the past two or three weeks, there have been a lot of questions about City’s practices. We know they have the money to do all of this wheelin’ and dealin’, but as has been talked about on our site’s podcast, they currently have player-after-top-player, so much so that many high-quality pieces are languishing on the bench.
Take the Arsenal match for example. Granted, David Silva and Mario Balotelli were unavailable due to scrapes. Mancini used that as his excuse for playing his normal “stonewall against a better team” philosophy. What, Emmanuel Adebayor isn’t good? I could think of several clubs in the league who could use his skills. Every week, it’s like, “Everton needs a striker. Brum needs a striker.” And presumably, the thing that would prevent all of this is that City wants $$$ for players like Adebayor. Big $$$. But he’s not worthwhile enough to use in a game where, according to Mancini, if he had a second attacker he would have played an open game? Right.
There were the reports of Tevez wanting out. Who knows what calmed him down, maybe they had puppet José come in and tell him, “Shut up Carlos! You’re getting paid!” Then Balotelli is heartbroken for Italy. I guess everyone prefers Italia, that’s where Dzeko would rather be. Hey, maybe they can relocate to Mancini’s hometown of Jesi! Everyone will be happy, with tummies full of Tuscan cuisine, remarking how effectively that 4-5-1 worked against AC Milan the other night.
In all seriousness, you now will have 4 coveted strikers at City. Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko, and Adebayor. To claim that any squad, even United, stacks up to this group is a stretch. It is true that, in prime form, Wayne Rooney is a better footballer than all four of those City strikers. This season Berbatov has shown himself to be roughly as good as Tevez. Javier Hernandez was a bit of a gamble for Sir Alex, and that has paid dividends. But to say that Hernandez is as good as Balotelli or Dzeko is likely a stretch. Out of the remaining forwards, the only one that could be considered close would be Danny Welbeck, having a very good campaign on loan with Sunderland.
So let’s say that Roberto Mancini decides to take a quick course at the Arsene Wenger University of Positive Football. And let’s say Hell freezes over. But I repeat myself. Can Mancini keep 4 strikers happy employing a markedly defensive system? He hasn’t kept 3 happy, and Tevez gets to play nearly every match. The interesting thing is…this post has covered only the striker position. This depth of talent is spread throughout the squad, at nearly every position. Another well-publicized case is goalkeeper, with Shay Given sitting stagnantly as Joe Hart starts every game. This is a role reversal from 2009, when Given was purchased to solidify the position. But Hart’s reputation and ability soared on loan at Birmingham City, and now City has two high profile keepers.
So my question is, can City survive what seems to be a potential clubhouse disaster? Can Mancini effectively assuage the swollen egos that have been apparent even before the acquisition of Dzeko? Will City sell (or loan) Adebayor and/or Given? I do think that Manchester City will finish in a Champions League slot, but these issues to me seem potential derailing points to an otherwise solid City team.