You can’t read too much into preseason matches especially this early in training. But Manchester City’s two loses in South Africa this week were more alarming for the lack of cutting edge in attack and industry from attacking players than the results themselves.
Edin Dzeko, the club’s leading scorer last season, looked well off the pace as the Blues were shown up by Alex Nimely, a 22 year-old Manchester City Academy product whose last Premier League appearance for the club was in the 2009-2010 season. James Milner was industrious as ever on the flank but Scott Sinclair, who played more minutes on this tour than any other City player, was poor coming off a lost season that ended in serious illness. The former Swansea winger is likely in the shop window and should get a move away from the club particularly with the arrival of Jesus Navas from Sevilla.
Samir Nasri seemed to thrive in a free role in both his appearances, but when David Silva returns from his summer break, it’s possible Nasri’s freedom and creativity will be reigned in. Former manager Roberto Mancini struggled to get the best out of Nasri and Silva when both were on the pitch at the same time. Nasri was, however, one of the better players for City in both pre-season matches.
Academy products Denis Suarez and Abdul Razak both looked out of sorts in their appearances, though in defense of Razak he was played in an unfamiliar position wide on the right flank. New signing Fernandinho, who cost the club a reported £30million, appeared uncomfortable at times in the opening match of the tour and in today’s loss gave the ball away six times by my count in his nearly 70 minutes on the pitch. Gareth Barry, a favorite of Mancini, appears to be surplus to requirement in the new Manuel Pellegrini regime.
The Blues new signing Alvaro Negredo has a good goal scoring record for Sevilla, but I am not sure he will acclimate quickly to life in England. Stevan Jovetic, on the other hand, is the type of worker that will fit in well in the Premier League. While the former Fiorentina man has a mediocre goal scoring record, his off the ball work and willingness to track back made him one of the best attacking players in Serie A the past few seasons.
The performances were poor this week from City’s returning players especially knowing Navas, Jovetic and Negredo were waiting in the wings. The lack of cutting edge and general sloppiness of play indicate fully why Pellegrini has felt the need to upgrade a squad that, despite finishing 2nd last year in the Premier League, seemed to over rely on defensive stoutness to achieve results.
Also of note was Joleon Lescott playing left-back for a portion of both matches. While not an ideal position for a thirty year old who is devoid of pace, but his positioning sense and tactical awareness make him perhaps an emergency option in that role.