The white flag of surrender hasn’t yet replaced the proud crest of Premier League Champions that flutters above the Etihad Stadium, but it can surely only be a matter of time.
As a season that promised so much descends into an anxious final few weeks to cling onto an automatic Champions League qualification slot, Manuel Pellegrini is left casting around for any positives from a wholly underwhelming campaign.
City’s abysmal 1-0 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor has virtually killed off any strangulated choruses of ‘We’ll Fight Till The End’, as the inquests begin on a catalogue of missed opportunities.
Amidst the crushing disappointment there have been a few rays of hope, noticeably the majestic form and double digit goal haul of David Silva, the world class striking instincts of Sergio Aguero currently finding himself at around 7/4 with betfair to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer, and the consistency, versatility and lung-busting efforts of a certain James Milner, sadly, seemingly destined for pastures new this summer.
The trio emerge with their credibility intact, something that cannot be said of most of a chronically under-performing squad that hardly benefited from an influx of summer signings.
City had their financial wings clipped due to Financial Fair Play rules, but the club were still able to recruit a number of new players, most recently spending £25 million to acquire Wilfried Bony in January. But how have those new players adapted to life in Manchester, and should City be looking to keep hold of those players nearing the end of their first season at the Etihad?
There was a feeling at the beginning of the season that Pellegrini’s decision to sign the goalkeeper he had had so much success with at Malaga, was an indication that Joe Hart could have a genuine rival for the number-one spot. While Willy Caballero is arguably an improvement on Costel Pantilimon, the 33-year old Argentine hasn’t threatened Hart as the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper at the club. If Caballero is satisfied with his back-up role at City, there is no real need for the club to look to replace him. Hart knows that, barring a catastrophic loss of form, he remains the main man, with Willy ready to prove his worth if and when required. KEEP.
After City made such an effort to sign him following the end of his contract at Arsenal last summer, Sagna would have been forgiven for expecting to have been handed a much bigger role than he has had this season. While the Frenchman was never going to dislodge City legend Pablo Zabaleta on a regular basis, he must have hoped for more playing time, especially when he has delivered some solid, if unspectacular, showings. At 32-years old, and on a huge contract that runs for another two years, City won’t find it easy to move Sagna on if they want to recruit a new, younger right-back at the end of the season. KEEP.
On the back of a relatively quiet summer, City made a huge splash by spending £32 million to sign Eliaquim Mangala from Porto. Nearing the end of his first season in the Premier League, it’s so far looking as though Porto have had the better end of the deal. While the Frenchman has been a regular under Manuel Pellegrini this season alongside Vincent Kompany and/or Martin Demichelis, Mangala has come under fire from some sections of the media and City supporters for his inconsistent performances. The centre-back has admitted he has found it tough to adapt to the Premier League. At 24-years-old he still has plenty of time to come good in the Premier League, with City likely to give him the opportunity to fulfil his potential. KEEP.
A £12 million signing from Porto, Fernando was signed to add some steel to the City midfield, something lacking since the departure of Nigel De Jong. Sadly, the Brazilian with a Portuguese passport has been lamentable. Despite being a regular under Pellegrini, Fernando has had a dreadful first season in the Premier League. The player has admitted he has found life tough in the Premier League, but it doesn’t look as though Pellegrini is ready to cut his losses on the midfielder just yet. If he survives what promises to be a sizeable summer clearout from the Etihad, Fernando will need to improve immeasurably if he is to be considered a success in Manchester. SELL.
Say what you like about the circumstances that resulted in Frank Lampard making the move from Chelsea to Manchester – via New York City – the midfielder has been one of the real stars of this season. He may not have played every game but ‘Super Frank’ has been an important element within City’s squad, for what he has brought to the training ground, as much as for what he has contributed when coming off the bench. Despite his advancing years, the ever popular ‘Lamps’ is still one of a kind. He has been chronically under used by Pellegrini and will be missed when he eventually departs for the Big Apple and the MLS. RELUCTANTLY ALLOW TO LEAVE.
When Alvaro Negredo departed for Valencia on the last day of the 2014 summer transfer window, it left City a man light in the striking department. Little did they know that come December they would be striker-less for a series of games with Aguero, Dzeko and Jovetic all out injured. As soon as the January window opened City shelled out £28 million to convince Swansea to part with a player who had scored 25 goals in 54 Premier League appearances for the Welsh side. Forced to put off the start of his City career due to Ivory Coast’s participation in the African Cup of Nations, Bony, has thus far been given precious few opportunities to make his mark. Curiously, Bony has been restricted to the bench at a time when many thought his firepower would see City hitting the top slot in the league. With Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko both being linked with moves away from the Etihad in the summer, Bony is likely to find himself as one of the main men next season. KEEP.
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu