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Fernandinho Signing May Signal Big Changes For Gareth Barry and Man City’s Playing Style

etihad stadium Fernandinho Signing May Signal Big Changes For Gareth Barry and Man Citys Playing Style

Manchester City’s signing of Fernandinho has raised eyebrows largely because of the massive transfer fee reportedly paid for a 28-year old that has never been a regular international.

While we’ve seen some dazzling play from the player in the Champions League and in important Ukrainian League fixtures, Fernandinho is an adept passer out of a deep-lying midfield spot and has the athleticism and pace to get forward and join the attack when needed.

But the question that bugs me about this signing is that Manchester City need to continue featuring a ball-winning midfielder. Gareth Barry is currently that figure and while he is getting on in age at 32, he has done very little, a few poor games not withstanding to this point, to warrant being replaced in the squad. Barry’s consistency has been admirable.

James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta had outstanding seasons but otherwise every single player in the Manchester City team saw a drop off from 2011-12 levels. Barry’s drop off by comparison was less pronounced and if he is being moved out of the way for Fernandinho, it indicates a gutting of the club’s remaining English core as well as a definitive change in playing style.

The theory goes if you spend boatloads of cash you are under a moral obligation to play beautiful football. The new Manchester brass seems to believe this. But the reality is that Roberto Mancini should have been judged by one thing and that was his advancement of Manchester City into the Premier League elite. Mancini understood that while Barry may not been the most technically gifted, quickest or best passing holding midfielder in the English game, very few were more effective than him. Barry provided a level of cover for the back four and connectivity with the attacking players particularly Milner who at times paired with him in central midfield and Carlos Tevez with whose game Barry has a strong understanding of.

Fernandinho’s signing indicates not only a move away from Barry, but a certain style and a certain type of deep-lying, holding midfielder. Perhaps the hope is that Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell come good, but with Fernandinho and Yaya Toure in the side – unless City plays a 4-5-1 or 3-5-2 – will room exist on the team sheet for a ball-winning midfielder like Barry or Rodwell?

Stylistically, Manchester City is undergoing a metamorphosis as indicated by this signing.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

8 Responses to Fernandinho Signing May Signal Big Changes For Gareth Barry and Man City’s Playing Style

  1. Wigan Blue says:

    Excellent piece, and very true. While Barry has shown touches of excellence in the last couple of seasons, he is slowing down. At Villa he powered forward at every opportunity, and scored a very respectable number of goals ‘from midfield’. He hasn’t been used in that role at City – Yaya is our powering forward man.

    Time was, when a player started to slow down, he was played deeper. As long as he could read the game (as Barry is a master of doing), his reduction in pace wasn’t so much of an issue. It won’t matter so much for City – he’ll still be there as solidly dependable cover, but I feel England may well lose out on the deal.

  2. Wigan Blue says:

    Oops – damning with faint praise there. For “touches of excellence”, please read “consistent excellence”.

  3. Flyvanescence says:

    Agreed. Great piece.

    Like i mentioned before, there will likely be only 2 of Barry, Yaya, Fernandinho and Rodwell playing at once. And with the rumoured signing of Isco, his name might b added to that list although it rele appears they want to go 4-3-3 in which case Isco can play at the front of the triangle.

    Also, you mentioned his rapport with Tevez. since Tevez doesnt rele fit into a 4-3-3 unless you use a “false 9″ (u could use him wide but that would marginalise him greatly), does that mean that he is on the way out also?
    (I know he can probably play as a traditional 9 but he roams way too much and seems to prefer playing behind Dzeko or Aguero or as a false 9.)

  4. City Blue says:

    Outstanding piece. Barry has served us well but we need a more dynamic attacking player like Ramires at Chelski. That’s what Fernandinho appears to be.

  5. CTBlues says:

    He may be going to NYC FC sooner rather than later.

  6. Marc L says:

    Good piece.

    It is an interesting question as to what this portends for the midfield. As to Barry, he is enormously underappreciated and I for one would hate to see him go.

    There has been a lot of talk of 4-3-3 as the preference for next year. So you could see Fernandinho at CDM with the other two drawn from Rodwell/Milner/Toure and Barry as an able deputy.

    Rodwell they are definitely high on. When the club chairman goes out of his way to praise a guy by name during the state of the team interview (largely focused on macro issues) you will generally not expect to see that fellow off-loaded.

    I think the tea leaves do not suggest a 4-5-1 or 3-5-2 though. For reasons I do not have time ATM to get into (and also to avoid having a post long enough to in fact constitute a nested blog.)

  7. Marc L says:

    To add:
    You always need bodies, and with Rodwell’s history of injury problems I could definitely see both Barry and the well-coiffed scarecrow AKA Javi Garcia being kept around.

    Garcia does have some skills (aerial esp.) that we will be a bit otherwise short of. Could fill in at CB at a time of extreme necessity. With Lescott moving on that is worth keeping in mind.

  8. Purdman says:

    I thought Barry committed some major blunders in big games this season and his lack of pace was exposed frequently.

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