We looked at the outs here, so let’s consider for a few minutes what has been added to the squad this summer.
This might be a bit more straightforward and matter-of-fact than the “outs”, because (1) there are a couple of lads here who I genuinely know very little about, and (2) there’s not much by way of an emotional attachment/involvement with them yet, so I can’t quite piss and moan about them to the same degree. Yet.
“Yet” being the operative word.
Cutting to the chase, or maybe the opposite, before we look at new faces we need to recognise the value in two contracts that have been signed this summer by the two key figures at our football club (at least as far as what happens on the pitch is concerned). You only have to cast your eyes southward a couple of hundred miles and snigger at the annual trauma that Arsenal fans have to live through to understand the importance of Vincent Kompany signing a 6, YES SIX, year contract. Here is a man who wants to make history with the club, and I cannot begin to conceive of another individual more suited to lead us through it. He’s someone to be truly proud of. Plus when the oil runs in a couple of years that contract will hopefully ensure a decent fee for him.
As for the manager, pretty much the same. New 5 year contract for Roberto and personally I couldn’t be happier. The man is a born winner. ADUG have been utterly vindicated beyond any reasonable criticism over the decision to give Mark Hughes the bullet. Given all the resources in the world for a decade, I have my doubts about whether he would have delivered a league title. I know that Mancini still has his doubters, and I know that there are question marks over his ability to deliver in Europe, but here to me seems to be a man ready to build his own dynasty. I’m not stupid enough to believe that we can ever get anywhere near the longevity of him over the road, but, family permitting, I hope that he sees out these 5 years because I think he will deliver for us.
Having had those two bits of news so early in the summer I think a few of were lulled into a false sense that the rest of our business would be done just as quickly and smartly. We were to be somewhat disappointed. Fingers were pointed, voices were raised, “key targets” were missed, but when 11pm on August 31st finally came I think we could be content with a window that whilst being more subdued than the last few years, hopefully added a bit of freshness, quality and flexibility to the squad.
IN – Jack Rodwell from Everton
Depending on your newspaper of choice, a reported £12-15m has been punted on Rodwell, and I say “punt” because in my eyes there’s a bit of that about this deal. Jack Rodwell is 21 years old yet starting his 6th season in the Premier League. This is a player who at 16 probably had more hairs on his chin and meat on his bones than I do now at 33. A supposed “future England captain” at 18 years old. But niggling doubts remain. Given this vaunted superstar potential, at 21 now and with 5 years behind him might we have expected him to have not only bedded himself in at Everton but made him indispensable to the point that David Moyes was beating our bids back with a shitty stick? Wouldn’t we have expected our dear neighbours, linked with him for 2 or 3 years now every summer, and in need of a tough dominating central midfield player, to be throwing their hat in the ring for him? The nature of this deal is a marked change from the last time we did business with Everton (Lescott) and there’s something a little bit eerie about it.
NEVERTHELESS, a big step up, a huge opportunity for Jack to show that he’s got what it takes, and to be fair to him the early signs are decent. The only target he should set himself for the season is to stay fit, and hopefully we may start to see the best of him. Only then should we judge.
IN – Richard Wright from free agent
There was ridicule from some quarters at the signing of Wright, who many moons ago was Nicky Weaver’s chief competition in the race to be England’s “next number one”, but the signing makes sense on quite a few of levels. Sure, he’s getting on a bit now, and never really fulfilled that late 90s/early 00s promise, but we needed a 3rd choice keeper after Stuart Taylor’s release to ensure that we never end up in the position of having to borrow a Marton Fulop again. Wright has the necessary experience to be able to step onto the bench in the event of injury to either of our first choice keepers, or even into the team in the event of some catastrophic goalkeeping incident which even these days you would not put past City. So, yeah, ok, happy enough with this.
IN – Matija Nastasic from Fiorentina
I’ve never seen him play, or even bought him on Football Manager, so deferring to the ever reliable James Horncastle, Nastasic would appear to be a left-sided centre back capable of playing as part of a 2 or 3, 19 years old and unflappable under pressure. Unflappable, eh? We’ll soon knock that out of him at City, won’t we? Well, let’s hope not. Judging by Kolo Toure’s recent performances this kid ought to be first choice backup to Kompany or Lescott, and first choice to bring in when Mancini wants to use his 3-5-2 formation, so let’s hope that the potential that Horncastle and others see can be fulfilled.
IN – Scott Sinclair from Swansea
I’ve gone round in circles a bit about whether Sinclair represents an upgrade on Adam Johnson. The conclusion that I think I’ve come to is that I think Sinclair will prove to be a better option than AJ most of the time: attitude, workrate, pace and goal-threat I think are all improvements on his predecessor. However Johnson, on his day (and although he hasn’t done it nearly enough) can be a match winner. I’m not quite sure that Sinclair has that, but we will see. His girlfriend is a decent addition to the WAG collection at City, if nothing else.
IN – Maicon from Internazionale
Multi-time Serie A winner, Champions League winner, Brazil international with 60-odd caps, offers the perfect solution to the right wing-back role in a 3-5-2. Three million quid. I find it crazy that people are doubting this deal. Bit of a no-brainer if you ask me. Yes, he got the chasing of his life that one night against Gareth Bale, but if you think that Mancini would ever leave him that exposed you need to give your head a massive wobble. Terrific signing at that price, don’t worry about his age – red herring, that is.
IN – Javi Garcia from Benfica
Last but not least, City’s new no. 14. That shirt has been donned in the Premier League over the years by such luminaries as Carl Griffiths, Kit Symons, Gareth Taylor, Kiki Musampa and of course most recently Roque Santa Cruz. Esteemed company, I’m sure you’ll agree. I hope that he has a little more success than that lot did. I’m padding a bit here because I know little about Javi other than he seems a lovely fellow in his videos on the official site and he made his Spain debut this year. One person on Twitter described him as similar to Gareth Barry in the work he does on the pitch. If we’ve got a long term Gareth Barry replacement, that’ll do me.
Those That Got Away
Daniele de Rossi, Robin van Persie, Javi Martinez, Eden Hazard.
Out of these 4, van Persie and Hazard were probably the most realistic targets. DDR was the one I really wanted (imagine a midfield of him and Yaya!), but he was never leaving Roma unless the club said that they wanted him to go, and Martinez had his heart set on Bayern by all accounts. In the end RVP wanted United and got his move, so not much to say about that, and it seems that ultimately we were never really quite in for Hazard seriously once his agent’s demands became clear. We have to respect that stance from the club. Really then, if these were Mancini’s top 4 targets I can understand some of his frustrations about our ability, or lack of, to progress/close deals but it doesn’t appear that we were ever close to getting any of them anyway.
That’s it. Done, dusted, sealed and delivered until mid-December when the de Rossi rumours kick in again, along with the Rooney and Ronaldo whispers. The latter of which make me feel like curling up into a ball, pulling a sheet over my head, and screaming and screaming and screaming until it all goes away. No thank you to both. Just no. Thank you.
Whilst there is/are no marquee signing(s) this year, for now we can be pleased with shifting out some crap, pinning down the manager and captain to long term deals, and adding some genuine flexibility to the squad. I think that there will be some scratching of heads to come as Mancini continues to flirt with 3-5-2, but the set of players he has now would at first glance at least appear to be better suited to it. Who knows, maybe 3-5-2 will even unlock the Kolarov conundrum.
That’s enough, this has ended up much longer than I anticipated. Enjoy the relative silence from now until this all kicks off again later in the year.
See you in January. I’m off for a stiff drink.
This is a guest post by Tom Matley (OrtusUK on Twitter). In his own words, he is “33 years a Blue. Family Stand to Kippax to East Stand. Occasional South Stand tourist.”