Well, now that’s done, let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Manchester City won the league in emphatic fashion on Sunday, though their loyal fans had to wait until stoppage time against a side fighting relegation to celebrate. And celebrate they did. Supporters swarmed the pitch, with players unable to hide their delight at finally toppling their cross-town neighbors, ending 50 years of hurt. But the methodical Roberto Mancini was wasting no time. On to the next season, preparation for pre-season, and a few difficult decisions await him. To make his load easier, I’ve helped him by making a list of players to waste money on this summer. The Italian desperately needs to replace Roque Santa Cruz and David “We Signed Him on a Risk-Free Loan” Pizzaro, and I have better things to do, but here goes nothing. Feel free to help Mancini as well by swearing me out in the comments section below. I want everyone to feel included.
I am also methodical, though I am neither Italian, nor a recipient of a seven figure pay check. I’ve divided the areas Mancini needs to address into areas of the pitch, which is a novel idea, and I expect many to follow suit. Here it goes.
Joe Hart, the colorful youth product of Shrewsbury Town, has a firm grasp on the number 1 spot at the Etihad Stadium, as well as the other grounds his side travels to next season. Ever since his impressive loan spell at Birmingham City, Hart has been first choice for club and country, and none of that should change. His backup, the impressively-named Costel Pantillimon, has looked solid in cup matches, and seems content deputizing for Hart when necessary. Surely an improvement on Martin Fulop.
In the full back areas, no purchases are necessary. Micah Richards rediscovered the form that saw him break into the England side at 19, while his deputy, Pablo Zabaleta, was solid backup. At left back, Clichy justified his low price tag in defence, while Kolarov’s cup cameos were just as productive.
At center back, Stefan Savic, though earning me extra points for alliteration, serves very little purpose in the City squad other than being a royal screw-up. That is often mitigated by the fact that Vincent Kompany was voted Player of the Year by the FA, Kolo Toure is really intimidating, and Joleon Lescott is left-footed, British, and thuggy, therefore deserves a spot in any team. However, with Lescott nearly costing City the league on Sunday, Toure never looking like the same player since his malaria infection in 2004, and Kompany the only mainstay, Mancini should look elsewhere for reinforcements at the back. But where?
Giorgio Chiellini, the Italian international, has had a phenomenal season, leading Juventus to an unbeaten season and filling in at left back when needed. He is the first name on the team sheet, and traditionally has dominated encounters with top strikers such as Ibrahimovic and Cavani. With fellow Italians Mancini and Balotelli already at City, the next season may be the opportunity for Giorgio Chiellini to announce himself to the rest of the world, which is the sporting equivalent of England. Giorgio Chiellini may have the opportunity to show English fans he is a good player. That’s what I was trying to say.
However, he is settled at Juventus, having just won Serie A legitimately for the first time. Where else to look?
Sunny Spain is where Alberto Botia plays for Sporting Gijon, and evidence points to him being a good signing for the Citizens. The Barcelona youth product has had an impressive few seasons at the heart of his club’s defense since Gijon’s promotion in 2008, which has sparked interest from none other than his former club. Next season, Sporting will be in the second tier of Spanish football, and Botia will not want to be among them. It is counterintuitive- a reinforcement at the Etihad Stadium on the cheap- but it might just work. Chances are he’s better than Stefan Savic.
Other options lie in Udinese’s Moroccan center back Mehdi Benatia, whose name is fun to say and has been linked with Manchester United, Shakhtar’s Yaroslav Rakitsky, and Stephane M’Bia of Marseille.
Undoubtedly, Manchester City’s midfield with Nasri, Silva, De Jong, Yaya Toure, Barry, Milner and er, Owen Hargreaves is the best in the country. To add to the riches, City possess a promising lad in the youth team by the name of Michael Johnson, who based on his performances on loan at Leicester City, merits a shot at first-team football. Joking aside, City could do with an extra midfielder, not least because Bobby doesn’t have enough of them to defend a 2-0 lead against Fulham.
A backup for the destructive Yaya Toure could go a long way. Who? A French-African midfielder fits the bill and City could do far worse than Moussa Sissoko. The French international is only 22, but has made close to 200 appearances for Toulouse. He has plenty of experience, being one of the goody-goodies who didn’t fall out with Raymond Domenech in South Africa. Sissoko has been linked to Manchester City in the past, though a €30 million price tag was enough to dilute interest. However, the opportunity to work with Yaya Toure, and a shot at Champions League glory may be too much for the young Frenchman to turn down this time around. He was first used a holding player, but is now mainly used further forward. Sound familiar?
I’m required to list other options, though if Manchester City want something, they’ll get it. They’ll just go and grab it. Oh, Eden Hazard- who shares a Christian name with Dzeko- has gone and added heat to the race for his signature by revealing he will sign for one, and only one, Manchester side this summer. Metaphorically, he could walk into any team in the world, and City would be glad to have the opportunity to open that door for him. Metaphorically. But that’s still a saga, and it is oh so suspenseful. Expect whipped cream to be involved, and it will be in abundance if Hazard plays behind Balotelli and Tevez in an attacking trident. Three big personalities right there.
If a move for Sissoko doesn’t work out, alternatives include Stephane M’Bia, equally adept as a defender, and Esteban Cambiasso. If Hazard becomes a red, breaking the bank for Mario Goetze or Lavezzi would be an adequate answer… breaking the bank, who am I kidding?
This is the most controversial area, and it makes me want to add a pun in reference to Balotelli and scoring, but I’ve said too much already. The signing of Aguero last summer added one of the world’s top forwards to a side already possessing Dzeko, Balotelli, and Tevez. However, with Dzeko being Dzeko, Balotelli not running out of crazy things to do, and Tevez pursuing an alternative career in golf, Kun Aguero was the only reliable forward for the duration of the season. And while they all came together in the end- Tevez making up with Mancini, Dzeko not being rubbish, and Balotelli putting his bad-boy act on hold- there is a good chance that past problems will plague City again. I’d love to go ahead and be blunt, actually. City does not have enough strikers. They need more. Must obey…
John Guidetti, young and Swedish, was absolutely electric on loan at Feyenoord, scoring a lot and impressing many in 6 months. His tally of 20 goals in 23 games merits a chance of first team football at the Etihad Stadium, and it would prove many doubters wrong if a multi-million pound signing and a youth team product were the first-choice strike partnership for the Premier League champions. Of course, that is the case currently for Manchester United: Danny Welbeck came back from a loan spell at Sunderland to replace Javier Hernandez in the starting 11. Guidetti may just be next season’s Welbeck.
Other options include David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Cavani, Andy Carroll (?), Falcao, Neymar, Messi, Eto’o, Jesus Christ, and the emotion “fear”. Might as well.
Am I missing anything? Ah, yes.
No changes necessary here.