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The Issue With Manchester City's Midfield

Along with the recent dip in form at Manchester City has come an unrest amongst the fans who have began to question as to why virtually the same team as the one that began the season so brightly currently appears to lack energy, creativity and flare. It seems as though one way or the other, the reasoning’s all revolve around the central midfield, the common consensus being that Mancini has brought with him the Italian obsession of defensive midfielders, breaking the link between the midfield and attack.

Take into account though that City have a positive goal difference of fifteen, scoring a total of forty eight goals and at the present time lying in fourth place in the Premier League and the argument seems to take a significant dent as a whole, but perhaps the problem is in the individuals. Gareth Barry, City’s summer signing from Aston Villa has not yet proved to be the box-to-box midfielder that his C.V may have suggested, although he has displayed a superb range of passing and the ability to dictate a game’s tempo. Lacking in pace, he perhaps is most destructive as a deep lying play-maker, similar to the role he adopts for his national side.

Patrick Vieira, recently signing from Serie A, still has to prove he has the ‘legs’ for the Premier League and is able to cope with the pace that demands such high fitness levels. Judging by his performances so far and the unnecessary lash out at Glen Whelan on Tuesday night, he still has a lot to prove to the City faithful. At six foot four he offers height and strength that potentially could bolster the midfield and if he is ninety percent of the player he was at Arsenal, then there is no reason as to why City’s midfield should lack an attacking side in the future. Complementing Barry and Vieira has been the Dutchman Nigel de Jong, a small but menacing holding midfield player, who’s job it is to break up opposition attacks and supply the flair players – the likes of Bellamy, Wright-Phillips and Tevez. Many state that he has been one of Manchester City’s most influential players this season, but often goes unnoticed patrolling in front of the back four.

This leaves Stephen Ireland, who undoubtedly was City’s star player last season, netting thirteen goals and picking up the Greater Manchester player of the year award. Unfortunately for the young Irishman, his performances this season have been short of average, not being helped with niggling injuries forcing him to miss sections of the season. Clearly, City miss his hunger to attack and his astonishing but still under-rated work ethic and creative instincts that formed him into one of the league’s best players last season.

Ireland appears to be the missing piece to the puzzle, someone who can play between the defensive midfielder/s and the strikers and with the likes of Barry and de Jong assisting him, it can only be a matter of time before the man from Cork finds his form once again.

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  1. Lee McAnulty

    February 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    JAMES – all the targeted players you listed bar Vidic (unrealistic that he would sign for City, a move to La Liga is a safer bet) are from foreign leagues and therefore are not guarenteed to prove themselves in the Premier league. City have bought well and signed established Premier League players – Tevez, Barry, Bellamy – these players know the league and can cope physically, i doubt Silva would, Ribery is debatable.

    THE RODSTER – the speed at which Bellamy runs he might as well be a FLARE player! Word has been edited 😉

    DAVE SHEPTON – I have to disagree with you there mate, he changed games last season from an ugly stalemate to goals with one pass or one bursting run.

    I agree on the point of the full backs as well, Zabaleta always manages to pick up a booking and bar Wolves away, Garrido has been nowhere near as good as Bridge.

  2. dave@shepton

    February 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm


    Why would you possibly select Zabaleta or Garrido. Both are slow, both border on the useless and in respect of Zabaleta, have a marked propensity for giving away free kicks around the penalty box. Always our box as well. City need to play this game against the bin dippers with speed. Tevez and Bellers up front, Sweep and Johnson out wide, Ireland attacking through the middle with De Jong clearing up in front of the defence. Please do not play 3 defensive midfielders. Our fans are crying out for us to attack Liverpool, as we should have been doing against the cloggers of Stoke and Hull, and Bolton, and Burnley.

  3. josonjos

    February 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    hi i am from the state of kerala, india. i am diehard fan of manchester city. i think since mancini took charge city has lost some of its attacking flare and bite. moreover there are some problom with some players position. petrov, a leftfooted player with grat speed to get on any difence have excelled in left wing. when on song he can creat havoc in th goalmouth with pinpoint crosses. but after mancini came he used petrov on the right wing and he struggled to get th rythem. same is te case with news boy johnson. he has all the ability of a world class winger on his left foot. inhis first couple of games he played on th right.
    i think city has not been very keen on wise spending either. look at the back four. only company showd some gritt and assuarence in defending. lescot and toure often find it difficult to gel. you need much improved defending to take on th likes of man utd and chelsea and liverpool.
    saying this i am not in a pecimistic mood against liverpool. and i think tevez and co can lighten the city of manchester stadium with another sterling performence. its all about finding th rhythem. against th reds midfield holds th key. its almost likely that viery will miss th match. so its up to barry, ireland and de jong to get th upperhand and keep the attacking flow.
    i think on sunday bellemy should be in the first eleven. along with ada and tevez. toure – company team should be there at the heart of th defence. flanked by argentine zabaleta and javier garido. a freekick exponent, garido coud be usefull.

    • evan

      February 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

      are you on just wondering

  4. Bishopville Red.

    February 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    No doubt Ireland brings a different dimension to the game, but he’s also a bit of a head case. His ego is getting in his way a bit too often. The boy needs to get straightened out before you make him a part of your equation you can rely on.

  5. dave@shepton

    February 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    The problem with Stevie is that when the going gets tough, he goes missing. He is in his element against teams that actually keep the ball on the floor. Against cloggers like Stoke, he hides and has been known to shirk the occasional tackle. City were always going to have a problem attracting flair players when we could not guarantee CL football. Once we get into that top 4, the players will come and hopefully, we will have a more balanced squad.

    • iancransonsknees

      February 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      Remind meagain who’s got the 3 game ban for kicking another player in the balls. If you’re hoping that when you get in the top 4 the top players will come & change it all you need them to bring some passion, work ethic and organisation which have been lacking in the past two matches. For the money spunked on your midfield the fact we were able to bring on Salif Diao & effectively play 9 vs 11 and miss out on all 3 points due to a corrupt ref would have me asking what the money has been wasted on so far. I’m just gutted Viera’s out on Wednesday.

      • Waterloo 11

        February 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

        It certainly should have been 2 more points for Stoke this week. Man City looked lost and played with no heart. That’s no way to keep yourself in the top four. I can’t wait to see Stoke take them out next week.

  6. The Rodster

    February 18, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I’ve often heard of players being “on fire” but “flare players”?

    flare – a sudden short blaze of light or flame

    flair – natural ability

  7. Richard The Red (Devil)

    February 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Come to the red side of Manchester, me boy. You’ll be the heir apparent to the Ginger Prince.

  8. James

    February 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Manchester City only got one top world class player, Carlos Tevez, the rest is a 5/7th team place. So simple like that. Other thing is to sell smoke….
    In my opinion we need a top central back ( Vidic ) a top midfielder ( David Silva ) a top wing ( Ribery ) and a top central striker ( David Villa ) . All the money spended in players as Santa Cruz, Lescott ( always injury ) Robinho ( came here because of money ) Adebayor ( same Robinho´s case ) Patrick Vieira ( too old and injury ) and so on …have been very dissapointed,

    • evan

      February 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      Adebayor is a class striker. He’s not able to show his best this season because of our wingers. Mancini plays Petrov (left foot) on the right and SWP (right foot) on the left. So Adebayor isn’t receiving the crosses that he needs to score. Hopefully now that Johnson is on the team things will improve.

  9. Erik in the States

    February 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I agree. We need Stevie in the attacking central midfield role. We are lacking a player that can feed the ball into the top player’s feet and then make those killer runs into the box, getting the ball back form the striker in dangerous positions. Right now we are ham strung with lumping the ball up to Adebayor’s head and chest to must less effect… Stevie also seems to find and aid the wide players better than Barry….

  10. Lee McAnulty

    February 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    ROB – Exactly my point mate, I’d hope Ireland De Jong and Barry can prove to be really effective, with Vieira looking at a 3 game ban that might be his only choice, although that would probably mean sacrificing Adebayor in the long term?

    ALAN AND EVAN – Stephen has just come back from a spell on the sidelines which is when Mancini took over and if he puts in a few good performances might begin to step up to the level we know he can. The question would be whether he would get the freedom to attack, against Bolton last week Mancini settled for 3 defensive midfielders. As Tevez is injured on Sunday I would love to see him used behind Adebayor.

  11. evan

    February 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    The only way Ireland will succeed is when he is given a free attacking role (similar to tevez’s) hopefully with tevez in Argentina for the Liverpool game, Mancini will put Ireland in that position he was in last season.


    February 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    The only way Stephen Irelandwill recapture the form that makes him City’s best player is by the Manager playing regularly him IN AN ATTACKING FORMAT

  13. Rob Fielding

    February 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    We NEED Stevie (Superman) in midfield with 2 defensive midfielders either side. Without Irelands attacking flair CITY have looked slow & too predictable.
    Look how the kings of KICK & RUSH (Stoke City) contained us on Tuesday…it should be no contest!!!

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