This is a guest post from Peter Jonson.
With the arrival of Pep Guardiola from Bayern Munich over the summer, Manchester City enjoyed a busy transfer window. The new manager quickly identified key areas in the squad that needed strengthening and then instructed the Director of Football at the club, Txiki Begiristain, to move swiftly.
As such, the likes of Claudio Bravo and John Stones made their way to Manchester, as did Ilkay Gundogan in midfield and the pairing of Leroy Sane and Nolito in attacking areas.
Stones has arguably been the most impressive of the summer arrivals, slotting in seamlessly to Guardiola’s style of football, while Nolito has made an instant impact on the goalscoring front. He may not be the most talented individually, but he understands the demands of the system perfectly and has adapted well to Manchester.
Nevertheless, despite the busy few months in the summer, there is still work to do to refine City’s squad – especially in the key positions of fullback. Go to a casino if you want to see what might happen in the future.
It was a surprise over the previous transfer window that there was not more movement in those areas. On the right of defence, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna are both comfortably into their thirties and Zabaleta especially has struggled over the past eighteen months or so with injuries and the impact they have had on him. Sagna is defensively secure but offers little threat in attacking areas.
On the other side, Gael Clichy remains a solid performer who is quick to close down and press, something Guardiola demands heavily, but again, his end product in the final third leaves something to be desired. Competing with him is Aleks Kolarov, who was the one player expected to be shipped out as soon as the new manager arrived – but was given a stay of execution due to a lack of options at the heart of defence.
Guardiola has tried to convert the Serbian to become a centre-back in some matches, especially those where City are likely to dominate possession, but it has once again become apparent over the last handful of encounters that as soon as pressure is applied on Kolarov, he is more likely to commit a mistake than prove his credentials. Against the better sides, he is an error waiting to happen.
If Guardiola does not deem Angelino and Pablo Maffeo, the two youngsters next in line for an opportunity, ready at this stage, then he surely has to look to the transfer market, perhaps in January, to add some reinforcements to his squad. In all other areas, there is quality in depth, but at the fullback position, it looks weaker.