MAN CITY: Season Ratings – Midfielders

21 May

Javi Garcia: 43 games, 0 goals - Inept in his first season at City, Garcia improved to some degree this time around but it’s all relative. Bluntly, he has gone from abysmal to average and it’s unlikely he’ll ever make that next step forward. Many seem to think he has enjoyed an impressive campaign, one in which he established himself as an important cog in the squad, but that he featured so regularly suggests a lack of viable alternatives in his position rather than as a result of Garcia stamping his own authority on the holding midfield role. Defensively, he has cut out the glaring errors that were a feature of the previous season, but he is still slow to read the game, slow to close men down and ever slower still when in possession. It could be argued he keeps the ball moving in the middle but he spends much of his time giving possession to our centre-backs because they are more incisive and show more intent to bring the ball forward. Manuel Pellegrini made a misjudgement in allowing Gareth Barry to leave on loan, rather than Garcia, and a lack of competition in those central areas forced Yaya Touré and Fernandinho to the point of exhaustion. As I’ve said throughout the season, the issue with Garcia is not that he does too much wrong, it is that he doesn’t do anything. Season Rating: 6

Fernandinho: 46 games, 5 goals – A superb acquisition! After an opening month in which he struggled and the term ‘lightweight’ was often used to describe him, he settled down to deliver staggeringly consistent performances. Overshadowed, perhaps, by the more creative bodies around him, he tucked into a slightly deeper role in midfield than he was accustomed to, but his dynamism and relentless pressing were the catalyst for much of our intensity. He brought an effervescent energy to the side, always harrying, always darting, always impressing. Technically, he is excellent, comfortable at playing the one-touch, two-touch intricate passing style enjoyed by Pellegrini and although he tired towards the end of the season, he was a standout star of the campaign. Two goals in a thriller against Arsenal brought his work to a wider attention but he performed at a high level throughout, not desiring the limelight yet performing a crucial role for the side. His call-up to the Brazil squad for the World Cup was a just reward for a magnificent debut campaign in Manchester. Season Rating: 8

Jack Rodwell: 10 games, 0 goals – Started just four games in all competitions and only played the full 90 minutes in one of those. Highlighted by Khladoon Al-Mubarak at the end of last season as a bright hope for the future, but this was, sadly, another injury-hit and underwhelming campaign. By the time he climbed off the physio’s table in the last third of the season, there was no chance of him creeping into the starting line-up. I’d love to see him given a chance as what we have seen from him has been intriguing but there’s a healthy possibility he’ll move on this summer in the search for more opportunities. His nationality, however, and our need for English-qualified players may just persuade the powers-that-be to keep him around for one more year. Season Rating: 4

Yaya Touré: 49 games, 24 goals – If he were a striker, that goals-to-games ratio would still be a tremendous achievement, but considering he has played huge swathes of the season in a central midfield role and only occasional encounters in a more advanced position, it’s a record that is worthy of serious acclaim. A string of free-kicks and penalties have inflated the perception that he has had a breathtaking goalscoring season – that, it should be added, is not an attempt to discredit his achievements, rather an opinion that views on set-piece strikes should not be related to a player’s position – but his game is about far more than just goals. At times he can cruise through matches and the feeling that he could accomplish more, the idea that he could be even more of an influence is a minor frustration with Yaya, but he’s the dominant figure in the side and the player through whom everything revolves. By his standards, last year was a poor one for him but he seemed more determined during this campaign to impose his authority on games. He still switches off defensively and allows opposition runners to cruise past him, but his impact in terms of organising our play and thus controlling matches is unparalleled. When he’s in the mood, it is a treat to watch him brush aside challengers. Undoubtedly, this has been his best season at the club. Season Rating: 8

James Milner: 44 games, 2 goals – With other struggling for their best form last season, Milner’s consistency led to him featuring more often and he enjoyed a hugely impressive campaign, but thanks to Samir Nasri’s incredible turnaround and the arrival of Jesus Navas, Milner saw his opportunities more limited this time around. He was a presence in the vast majority of our games, but only 21 of his 44 appearances were from the start. When he did play, he was typically hard-working, entirely selfless and with far more quality and intelligence than for which he is given acclaim. Tactically, he’s very aware and that means there were certain important games in which he was given the nod to perform his containing winger role, but while his critics deride him as merely a willing runner, there is plenty more subtlety to his approach. His movement across forward areas to provide the runs which are consequently found by the likes of Nasri and Silva is an underappreciated facet of his game, and we appear a far more balanced side when he’s in the team. He doesn’t have the natural attacking flair of others in the squad and that meant a limited role at times, but he is dependable, consistent and exactly the type of individual we need in the squad if we are to be successful on multiple fronts. Season Rating: 7

Jesus Navas: 48 games, 6 goals – Suffered an injury which kept him on the sidelines for the final month of the season, but before then he had played a part in 48 of our 51 games in all competitions, highlighting the variety and usefulness he brings to the squad. In truth, it was a mixed campaign for the Spaniard, at times thrilling us with his ability to beat a man in tight spaces from a standing start, but at other moments his one-dimensional tendencies frustrated. When an opposition defender gets tight and is able to stop Navas from darting down the wing, it can be painful to watch his attempts to move inside in an ever-increasing circle as he tries to work the ball back onto his right foot and if he is to really stamp his mark on the league, he’ll have to add a touch of unpredictability to his game. On form, however, there are few better at wriggling down the wing and putting crosses into the box. All wingers are captivating and frustrating in relatively equal measure, and Navas is no different. For a player who has had issues in the past with regards to homesickness and adaptation, this was a decent first season, nothing more, nothing less. He’ll hopefully step it up a notch next time around. Season Rating: 6.5

Samir Nasri: 46 games, 11 goals – The season where he announced himself at Manchester City, finally matching his majestic natural talent with an application that enabled him to deliver his best on a consistent basis. In his previous two years with the club, Nasri had been a peripheral figure, blessed with creative ability but all too happy to sit in the background and shirk responsibility. Not this season. Whether it was the soothing man-management of Pellegrini, the freedom he was given on the pitch or an increased maturity, the Frenchman was superb. Incontestably one of the players of the season, he was vibrant, purposeful and dripping with intent. He possesses the uncanny knack of being able to drift past opponents at speed and rather than looking in the direction of Silva to create chances for our strikers, he was full of guile himself. His workrate shouldn’t be overlooked, too. Happy to get stuck in, battle for possession and when on the ball, he proved near-impossible to shrug off. I would have been happy to see him go last summer but in the space of a season he has transformed from a passive shirker to a key component of our blistering side. Season Rating: 8

David Silva: 40 games, 8 goals – By a distance, he is the greatest player I have seen in a City shirt and when he was fully fit, and when it really mattered in the final stretch of the season, he displayed his quality in abundance. He missed a total of nearly three months with injury and played much of the second half of the season with an ankle knock that he managed carefully but still, what a delectable treat it is to observe him weave his magic. There’s not much to be said about him that hasn’t already been written many times over, but the way he caresses the ball and controls a game through simple darts, clever twists and elegant passes will never cease to be enchanting. During a season in which he was once again unfairly brilliant, it seems churlish to highlight one performance but his display against Hull was breathtaking. If only he could show as much composure in front of goal as he does when assisting others, he would be regarded as one of the best in the world. For now, we should just enjoy him and embrace his genius. Season Rating: 8

Note: Marcos Lopes made four appearances, all in cup competitions, as he continues to develop. He’d most likely benefit from a season on loan next year, but there is a chance he’ll stick around and be on the fringes of the squad.


8 Responses to “MAN CITY: Season Ratings – Midfielders”

  1. Siamack 21/05/2014 at 12:24 pm #

    >>Manuel Pellegrini made a misjudgement in allowing Gareth Barry to leave on loan.

    You hit the nail on the head. There is no question that even at 33, he has outperformed Garcia hands-down by comparison.

  2. @btb42 on Twitter 21/05/2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Garcia 6 and Rodwell 4?
    At times I forget even that Rodwell is on the team. Mediocre player and full of injuries. I wonder why we signed him. This guy simply has to go to cut our losses with him. Gets a 0 from me because he was non-existent.

  3. Ryan 21/05/2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Yaya is a 9

  4. Glenn Kavanagh 21/05/2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Sorry but I can’t really get into this grading players with 6 here 7 there, I’m grateful to each & everyone for giving me great memories which will stay with me’ each player has played his part except for Richards & rodwell who in my opinion are not hungry enough to try & better themselves-no fire in the belly there. As for yaya who has had some great moments for us I feel he has ruined his reputation forever with city fans (he has for me) an absolute embarrassment of a man, makes me feel ashamed to have testicules; him & his vile dispicable “agent”, what a complete wa***r’ I hope the most impressive chairman khaldoon deals with him accordingly, let him buy his contract out & take a hike pal’ you know nothing about respect about life & how you should conduct yourself as a ” professional”….. A complete tosser give him nought – MCTV interview with the big boss is excellent’ I feel that we are in gentle hands folks…. That man is the buisness’ would you look him in the eye & tell him he can’t do something??????? I wouldn’t.

  5. pjdemers 22/05/2014 at 8:13 am #

    I have a lot of time for vfab as I think the author always makes some very candid and thoughful assessment of City players, matches, & tactics. That said, I just you have an fair bias when it comes to accessing Garcia, and I think it may be a case of the even if the man could walk on water, you would criticize him for not being able to swim.

    there are always players who for one reason or another will not be your cup of tea,and I myself am guilty of the same.

    Garcia is not fleet of foot which of course does him no favors but it’s also clear that he’s a confidence player. I really feel the man grew as a player as the second half of the season progressed and he was instrumental in helping City keep their shape as a team defensively. My argument is that there is a player there, one who does have technical skill, has excellent aerial ability in the air, solid in the tackle, and yes, a player who can read the game but who’s lack of speed often betrays him. You don’t get selected by Mancini, Pellegrini, and Spain by being a liability. Yes he’s not eye catching but like DeJong he doesn’t have to be. You need your carthorses to go along with your thoroughbreds. Garcia is quite a useful player.

  6. pjdemers 22/05/2014 at 8:15 am #

    Apologies about not proofreading. An fair should have read unfair…

  7. Rat 22/05/2014 at 10:26 am #

    I feel like i speak for all city fans when i say that despite all the media focusing on Yaya, Serg and Komps (who are all undeniably great players), every true city fan’ ‘favorite’ player is silva. If he could score goals like messi or ronaldo no doubt he would be mentioned right up there in the same breath as those two.

    We are truly blessed to have him at the club, and i dont think ive ever enjoyed watching a player more than David (Hull away for example, literally every single touch he took was world class).
    Agree with all these ratings in general.

    • Roggie123 23/05/2014 at 8:22 pm #

      Totally agree with you, Rat – David really is a magician. We can marvel every week at his fantastic skills. How does he keep the ball so well? – it’s truly amazing! The way he is able to shield the ball is unbelievable. Surely he will be in Spain’s first team for WC?

      Agree overall with VfaB ratings and comments, a fair assessment of the players.I think Milner should have an 8 though. He played a really vital part in winning the last few games and I think Navas’ injury was a blessing in disguise. Don’t think Milner will be there next year as he has made it clear he wants to move away but, unfortunately, Garcia probably will be!

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