Friday, September 13, 2013

Man City Report - 2013-14 Initial Roster Finalized

As I said in my initial post about the 2013-14 campaign for Man City, there was a fair amount of turnover at the club with some big names leaving (manager Roberto Mancini and forward Carlos Tevez) and some even bigger names joining (midfielder Fernandinho, forward Stevan Jovetic, midfielder Jesus Navas, and forward Alvaro Negredo).

Just to tie up loose ends, let's look at the rest of the business done by Man City between my last post and the close of the summer transfer window:
- Loaned: midfielder Gareth Barry to Everton (source), forward Harry Bunn to Sheffield United (source), midfielder Albert Rusnak to Oldham (source), and midfielder Scott Sinclair to West Brom (source).
- Sold: midfielder Abdul Razak to Anzhi Makhachkala (source) and midfielder Denis Suarez to Barcelona (source).
- Bought: defender Martin Demichelis from Atletico Madrid (source).

With all the transfer business in the books till 2014, Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini can turn his attention to his current squad.  Feel free to comment if you disagree with my rankings or thoughts on the players highlighted below:

Initial Player Rankings
1. Yaya Toure (M)
2. David Silva (M)
3. Sergio Aguero (F)
4. Vincent Kompany (D)
5. Fernandinho (M)
6. Matija Nastasic (D)
7. Alvaro Negredo (F)
8. Gael Clichy (D)
9. Edin Dzeko (F)
10. Jesus Navas (M)
11. Joe Hart (GK)
12. Pablo Zabaleta (D)
13. Samir Nasri (M)
14. Joleon Lescott (D)
15. James Milner (M)
16. Stevan Jovetic (F)
17. Aleksandar Kolarov (D)
18. Javi Garcia (M)
19. Micah Richards (D) 
20. Jack Rodwell (M)
21. Dedryck Boyata
22. Martin Demichelis (D)
23. Costel Pantilimon (GK)
24. John Guidetti (F)
25. Richard Wright (GK)
26. Alex Nimely (F)
27. Erik Johansen (GK)
1. Yaya Toure (M): With Fernandinho in the fold, some wondered if the Toure and Fernandinho could co-exist because they have such similar styles of play.  Three matches is not a large enough sample size to make any grand statements but so far so good.  How the two play together once Man City starts their Champions League campaign will go a long way towards determining whether their similar styles of play make them a long-term solution in central midfield for Man City.  It is going to be hard to knock Toure out of the top spot because he is one of best box-to-box midfielders in the world and he strikes a mean free kick too.  In case you missed it, check out Toure's fabulous free kick from the weekened to seal Man City's victory over Hull.

7. Alvaro Negredo (F): Of all of City's summer captures, Fernandinho is having more of an impact box-to-box but in the final third, Negredo has been doing his best Dzeko impression from last season with two goals in three appearances as a substitute so far this season.  Negredo's two goals ties him with Toure for the team lead in goals.  Based on early returns, Negrado looks to be the super-sub of the 2013-14 season that will get an occasional start in the EPL if Man City makes a deep run in the Champions League.  Last season Man City finished last in Group D, which was comprised of Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Ajax.  This year Man City is again in Group D but looks to have a better draw: Bayern Munich (defending champion), CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.  Qualification for the knockout stage is no guarantee but the fact that players like Negredo currently can't crack the Starting XI speaks to the quality of Man City's current squad.

12. Pablo Zabaleta (D): I am an unabashed fan of all things Zabaleta but he did let the man he was supposed to be marking, Frazier Campbell, score two goals on headers en route to Cardiff City's shocking home victory over Man City.  Zabaleta took issue with man marking as opposed to zonal marking, which Man City employed under their previous manager Roberto Mancini.  Whether Man City employs man or zonal marking on corners going forward, they need to be more precise because conceding multiple goals off set-pieces is unacceptable.

22. Martin Demichelis (D): Joined Atletico Madrid this summer from Malaga on a free transfer in July and Atletico Madrid smartly flipped Demichelis for $6.5 million because despite being one of richest clubs in the world, Man City had very little depth at central defender with Kompany out  a month.  Unfortunately it looks like Demichelis will be out longer than Kompany because Demichelis suffered an injury in training that is supposed to keep him out four to six weeks.  Fortunately Nastasic returned from injury earlier than expected and Lescott is in decent form so hopefully that pair will holdup as Kompany and Demichelis heal.  That means that Atletico Madrid pocketed a cool $6.5 million for holding a free transfer for just over a month.  When I first started following Man City, $6.5 million would have been the entire summer transfer budget, now that is just an insurance deductible on central defender that might never see first team action.  Wow have things changed on the blue side of Manchester.

27. Erik Johansen (GK): If Man City had their druthers, they would have kept Wright instead of Johansen as their 3rd goalkeeper for their Champions League squad but UEFA rules preclude clubs from having more than four English players that were developed by another club.  With Hart, Lescott, Milner, and Rodwell developed by other clubs; Wright lost his Champions League roster spot to Johansen.  Since EPL rules are less stringent, Wright is the 3rd goalkeeper for Man City's EPL squad.

Man City springs back into action with two nervy road matches.  First, Man City faces Stoke on September 14th and then they open their Champions League campaign against Viktoria Plzen on September 17th.  How both of those matches go will have a big impact on my rankings.

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