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.