Wilfried Bony’s addition to the Manchester City lineup should help the Blues improve the rest of the season. But a question that will beg itself from here on out is whether the Ivorian striker is worth £28 million in January since City appears unlikely to collect any silverware this season.
Sergio Aguero scored twice in the 4-1 rout of Stoke at the Britannia last week. Those were the Argentine superstar’s first goals since December. Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic have continued to misfire this season and the Blues, who are under Financial Fair Play restrictions by UEFA, have dropped Jovetic from the Champions League squad for the knockout stages.
The triumph of Cote d’Ivoire in the Africa Cup of Nations has kept Bony out of Premier League action for a month and a half. He returns to England with a new club and an international triumph under his belt, but how much of an impact will he make initially?
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is one of the last diehard adherents to a 4-4-2 formation at a top European club. The Chilean manager tries to play multiple strikers as much as possible and given the poor seasons both Dzeko and Jovetic have had combined with the ill-advised dumping of Alvaro Negredo this past summer, the Blues have been hamstrung.
Defending has been a problem for City all season, but last year en route to the Premier League title, several matches hinged on the Blues getting a critical goal while being battered defensively, thus changing the complexion of games. The circumstances that led to those pivotal goals often revolved around interplay between the second striker (Negredo or Dzeko) and the creative midfield duo of David Silva and Samir Nasri. The absence of a viable second striker this season has changed the way Manchester City has played, leading to an approach that lends itself to even more possession but little cutting edge around the goal mouth.
Bony’s impact needs to be immediate if he is to repay the faith shown in his by the enormous price tag the club paid Swansea City for his services. But regardless of how quickly he fires the Blues forward, his addition to the club should allow Pellegrini to return to his preferred 4-4-2 in many matches and think about dumping either Dzeko or Jovetic this summer.
The ultimate impact of Bony may come on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League. With a viable second striker and the need to score goals at home, Pellegrini might be able to risk going with two strikers against Barcelona in the first leg which is in Manchester.
Conventional wisdom would say otherwise, but with little to lose and the need to “go for it,” the Manchester City boss might be able to create a tactical plan which takes advantage of the Catalan’s relatively weak defense.
If Bony has a role in firing Manchester City past Barcelona, the outlay of cash on the player would have been repaid almost instantly. So while on the surface the £28million signing of Bony looked somewhat irresponsible, the payoff could be immediate.
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