When Manchester City sacked Roberto Mancini after defeat in the 2013 FA Cup Final, the club spoke of instituting a “holistic” approach to management. On Mancini’s watch no former Elite Development Squad (EDS) player had been integrated into the first team at the Etihad Stadium. Despite the promise of many including John Guidetti, Denis Suarez, Abdul Razak and Karim Rekik, none had seen the pitch regularly. In fact, in Mancini’s final two seasons, when City finished 1st and 2nd in the Premier League table, recent youth players made a combined one league start (Karim Rekik vs Reading in December 2012). What is even more striking is none of the aforementioned players hails originally from the British Isles. However distasteful this may be City is not alone in adapting a policy also used many of the top English sides, to intake foreign players with EU passports at a young age and develop them as homegrown.
What was promised in the new era of City football was more stylish attacking football as well as more youth products in the side. However, the early returns on the later promise have fallen flat. This season since Pellegrini took over, Rekik was loaned was PSV, Suarez sold to Barcelona and Razak sold to Anzhi. Guidetti has yet to feature in a single match in any competition. The one product of City’s Academy still in the side is Micah Richards whose injuries and dip in form since early 2012 have made him expendable. (Dedryck Boyota has featured in two League Cup matches this season but it seems he may just seeing out his contract by playing in cup competitions.)
The sentiment from older City supporters like myself who desperately are holding onto links from a bygone era, dictate that Richards will continue to feature for the club. However, he simply isn’t performing at an adequate level. It’s sad but Micah Richards, the prodigal son is incapable of playing at this level any longer.
The one Englishman getting regular earned playing time in Pellegrini era is the Leeds born and bred James Milner has previously played for three other English clubs. Joleon Lescott has often been called upon due to injuries but his performances have been questionable and indications are that Pellegrini will gladly dump him when afforded the opportunity.
In the second half against Spurs with City leading 5-0, Pellegrini had two opportunities to give Guidetti his long-awaited Premier League debut. Instead the young Swedish striker was ignored for Milner and Dzeko with a game well in hand. Given this, it is difficult to see how Guidetti fits into City’s long-term planning. Considering only Guidetti is close to the first team squad at this time among more recent Academy graduates the holistic approach we were promised will have to wait a while longer.