Manchester City 2014-15: Now With as Many Top Flight Titles as Wednesday

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teddykgb

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City want to play with 2 strikers and Bony is well suited to the system. 30m is both a lot and probably not what it used to be at the same time.

In my head, Bony is probably a 20m fee player, but I think those players cost 30 now with the tv money going up. It's essentially a wash on what Negredo was sold for and Bony is proven in the league and younger.

Either way, I think City just don't want to be chasing the title with only Dzeko and the oft injured Jovetic. At this point, all 3 are unreliable and the depth could prove very wise. Having seen Bony a fair amount, I also think he's got the ability to play some of the one touch football Dzeko honestly lacks while still being more physical and more of a target man. I think he'll start most matches for us with Aguero when fit and can play as a lone striker when he isn't. Jovetic either plays the Nasri/Silva AM role or more likely is sold to Italy
 

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Yeah, £30M includes a major tax for checking off the "proven in England" box.  And at 26, you're buying a player at his peak value.  But it's only money for City.  I'd do the deal and look for another striker in the summer, because Teddy nails a lot of the challenges City faces up top.
 

teddykgb

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Apparently Liverpool fans think activity in your thread is worth trash talking about, so it's time for a resurrection!
 
Big match day today.  I've already warned my boss that I've developed a whooping cough that is going to really thrash my body starting around 2:30PM today.  
 
Barca have been a traditionally tough opponent for City, like going against your doppleganger who does all the things you want to do, just better than you do.  Where City normally dominates possession, probes and probes and probes some more, sometimes finding the goal, sometimes not, it tends to be completely different versus Barca.  Barca force city onto the back foot, having to defend and counter -- it's a very strange thing for the City players who just don't usually have to play this way.  I imagine that we'll see a ton of Jesus Navas and I'm waiting very much to see whether Pellegrini plays 4 or 5 in midfield.  It's tempting to play the suddenly white hot Edin Dzeko or new acquisition Wilfried Bony paired with Aguero, but City have shown a slight bit of pragmatism against Barca in the past.  I think, as much as I'd like to see them play their game and go out 4-4-2, missing Yaya for this match will force Pellegrini to try to make up with an extra midfielder, and we'll get something like Lampard inserted with a lot of latitude to drift forward.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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teddykgb said:
Apparently Liverpool fans think activity in your thread is worth trash talking about, so it's time for a resurrection!
 
Big match day today.  I've already warned my boss that I've developed a whooping cough that is going to really thrash my body starting around 2:30PM today.  
 
Barca have been a traditionally tough opponent for City, like going against your doppleganger who does all the things you want to do, just better than you do.  Where City normally dominates possession, probes and probes and probes some more, sometimes finding the goal, sometimes not, it tends to be completely different versus Barca.  Barca force city onto the back foot, having to defend and counter -- it's a very strange thing for the City players who just don't usually have to play this way.  I imagine that we'll see a ton of Jesus Navas and I'm waiting very much to see whether Pellegrini plays 4 or 5 in midfield.  It's tempting to play the suddenly white hot Edin Dzeko or new acquisition Wilfried Bony paired with Aguero, but City have shown a slight bit of pragmatism against Barca in the past.  I think, as much as I'd like to see them play their game and go out 4-4-2, missing Yaya for this match will force Pellegrini to try to make up with an extra midfielder, and we'll get something like Lampard inserted with a lot of latitude to drift forward.
 
I think this incarnation of Barcelona might be a more favorable matchup for City since they are more direct and less of a possession oriented side.  It will be interesting to see who Barcelona plays in midfield (especially whether Xavi is involved), which might say a lot about whether they're hoping to control the game through possession or want some extra oomph.  In the bigger games this year they've tended to go with Busquets/Iniesta/Rakitic, especially after the Clasico when they started Xavi and got overrun.  If Pelligrini plays a three man midfield, I think City stands a pretty decent chance of winning the battle there and controlling the game in ways that they've never been able to do before against Barca.  That Messi-Neymar-Suarez trio is simply lethal on the break, though, so be careful what you wish for...
 

teddykgb

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Rough week.  Barcelona went as Barcelona typically does.  City again approached the game rather simplistically and again were completely unable to cope with Barcelona's style.  A 2-1 result (with a lucky Messi double miss on a pen) results in there being some life left in the tie, but it wasn't a good showing.
 
Followed by today's poor showing.  I think the manager is getting near the end of his rope.  A very naive performance, as I said in the game thread.  Liverpool coming out 3-5-2 with small, speedy players all over the pitch, City again come out in their 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 hybrid, essentially choosing to be outnumbered all over the pitch.  Made a show of pressing for about 5 minutes then fell off and left space all over the pitch for the aforementioned small, speedy players to run into.  Much has been made about Kompany and City's defenders this season, but I think it doesn't properly take into account how exposed they are in this system.  City push the full backs so far forward and are playing Nasri and Silva as wingers.  It's a fantastic way to get a bunch of great players on the pitch and really doesn't hurt you if you can keep the ball and keep the other team pinned back.  But it's devastatingly difficult if you play against a team that can counter or take the ball from you, as you end up with 2-3 players retreating while the other team storms forward.  If City could press from the front better or had more players who responsibly retreated they might be able to make it work, but at this point it seems like it might be too much for this group of players to enact.  To put it much more simply, if you want to beat City, press them.  It's happened countless times in Europe, in the cups and from lower and upper sides in the league.  City want to slow the match down a bit, work the ball, eventually find a goal.  Deny them that opportunity and you stand quite a chance.
 
Defending a title is really hard, there's no real shame in not being able to really pull it together.  But the team is getting to be a bit old and the system doesn't seem to fit them.  I don't know whether changing the manager or the players is the right move here, and it's probably some combination of both, but the only really hard part about losing to an in form Liverpool side today is that they really just seemed outnumbered the entire day.  The energy, commitment, and execution levels have consistently been missing this season.  There's a decent argument to be had that Liverpool score two goals from outside the box on tremendous curled shots and that football is at times a very cruel sport.  On another day this may be a cagey 1-0 or as I said earlier, Aguero is his usual lethal self and this finishes a narrow 3-2.  But I feel there are just systemic cracks in this City setup that are too often covered up by Aguero's brilliance or Silva's vision.  There's a lot for the folks in charge at City to chew on.
 

blueguitar322

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Good post.  It's clear that the 4-2-2-2 is part of what allows City to score so many goals, leading the league last year (2.7 goals/game and fastest ever to 100 goals).  This year, despite still leading the league in goals scored (57), they haven't been quite as prolific (2.1 goals/game).  When you allow the same number of goals and don't score quite as many, results will suffer.
 
If you change the system, does the reduction in goals allowed make up for fewer goals scored?  Or how strong is the correlation between formation and goals, given that Aguero is probably one of the world's top 5 attackers and can change the course of any game single-handedly?  I feel like Arsenal, City and Liverpool all favor attacking philosophy above all; sometimes, this leads to brilliant games, but it does leave them open to bad losses.
 
Regarding Pellegrini's managerial ability, I don't think he should be criticized for sticking with the same tactics and formations that won him the league just a year ago, in his first season as manager.  And as far as Europe goes, it's really hard to expect to beat Bayern Munich for top spot in the group (despite going 2-2 against them), and Barca is a tough draw given that Barca's system is the functional antidote to City's system, and Barca has better players in most areas of the pitch.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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teddykgb said:
Rough week.  Barcelona went as Barcelona typically does.  City again approached the game rather simplistically and again were completely unable to cope with Barcelona's style.  A 2-1 result (with a lucky Messi double miss on a pen) results in there being some life left in the tie, but it wasn't a good showing.
 
Followed by today's poor showing.  I think the manager is getting near the end of his rope.  A very naive performance, as I said in the game thread.  Liverpool coming out 3-5-2 with small, speedy players all over the pitch, City again come out in their 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 hybrid, essentially choosing to be outnumbered all over the pitch.  Made a show of pressing for about 5 minutes then fell off and left space all over the pitch for the aforementioned small, speedy players to run into.  Much has been made about Kompany and City's defenders this season, but I think it doesn't properly take into account how exposed they are in this system.  City push the full backs so far forward and are playing Nasri and Silva as wingers.  It's a fantastic way to get a bunch of great players on the pitch and really doesn't hurt you if you can keep the ball and keep the other team pinned back.  But it's devastatingly difficult if you play against a team that can counter or take the ball from you, as you end up with 2-3 players retreating while the other team storms forward.  If City could press from the front better or had more players who responsibly retreated they might be able to make it work, but at this point it seems like it might be too much for this group of players to enact.  To put it much more simply, if you want to beat City, press them.  It's happened countless times in Europe, in the cups and from lower and upper sides in the league.  City want to slow the match down a bit, work the ball, eventually find a goal.  Deny them that opportunity and you stand quite a chance.
 
Defending a title is really hard, there's no real shame in not being able to really pull it together.  But the team is getting to be a bit old and the system doesn't seem to fit them.  I don't know whether changing the manager or the players is the right move here, and it's probably some combination of both, but the only really hard part about losing to an in form Liverpool side today is that they really just seemed outnumbered the entire day.  The energy, commitment, and execution levels have consistently been missing this season.  There's a decent argument to be had that Liverpool score two goals from outside the box on tremendous curled shots and that football is at times a very cruel sport.  On another day this may be a cagey 1-0 or as I said earlier, Aguero is his usual lethal self and this finishes a narrow 3-2.  But I feel there are just systemic cracks in this City setup that are too often covered up by Aguero's brilliance or Silva's vision.  There's a lot for the folks in charge at City to chew on.
 
I think it may be time for the powers-that-be at City to really shake it up, both with a new manager and in the transfer market this summer.  It has always amazed me how City was built on the foundation of a cohort of players that were remarkably similarly aged - Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Clichy, Silva, Fernandhinho, Milner, and Navas were all born between 1/1985 and 4/1986.  The positive side of that arrangement is that you had all these players (plus Yaya, who is older, and Aguero who is younger) enter their prime together and enjoy those prime years developing into a cohesive unit (some obviously added later than others), accomplishing some great things over that period.  But I think that, while they're not over the hill, the downslope is approaching - some may even be already on the gentle part of that slope - and it could get ugly if it comes simultaneously for a bunch of them.  At the same time, it seems like the 4-2-2-2 approach with Pelligrini might have maxed out its effectiveness.  Things look a little bit stale.
 
This is not to say that City is finished or needs some kind of massive surgery.  It just seems like a good time to bring in a new manager with new ideas, to ship out a few core players while they still have value and to spend big in the transfer market.  I'm not sure how constrained by FFP City will be this summer.  But while in the past few years the club has mainly looked to add complementary players that could fill out the core, I think its probably time to get more ambitious and look for future core players, especially at positions like wing and midfield that might allow a reconfigured team under a new manager to better experiment with a 4-3-3 type of shape.
 

teddykgb

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
I think it may be time for the powers-that-be at City to really shake it up, both with a new manager and in the transfer market this summer.  It has always amazed me how City was built on the foundation of a cohort of players that were remarkably similarly aged - Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Clichy, Silva, Fernandhinho, Milner, and Navas were all born between 1/1985 and 4/1986.  The positive side of that arrangement is that you had all these players (plus Yaya, who is older, and Aguero who is younger) enter their prime together and enjoy those prime years developing into a cohesive unit (some obviously added later than others), accomplishing some great things over that period.  But I think that, while they're not over the hill, the downslope is approaching - some may even be already on the gentle part of that slope - and it could get ugly if it comes simultaneously for a bunch of them.  At the same time, it seems like the 4-2-2-2 approach with Pelligrini might have maxed out its effectiveness.  Things look a little bit stale.
 
This is not to say that City is finished or needs some kind of massive surgery.  It just seems like a good time to bring in a new manager with new ideas, to ship out a few core players while they still have value and to spend big in the transfer market.  I'm not sure how constrained by FFP City will be this summer.  But while in the past few years the club has mainly looked to add complementary players that could fill out the core, I think its probably time to get more ambitious and look for future core players, especially at positions like wing and midfield that might allow a reconfigured team under a new manager to better experiment with a 4-3-3 type of shape.
 
Both may very well be likely.  Right now City just have to secure Top 4.  I can't imagine that changing the manager improves that, so the summer will be very interesting.  Manuel probably needs to show a willingness to adapt, but the current players executing the current system will likely be far more than enough to get the results needed to stay in the CL and keep the financials solid.  That has to be goal #1 at this point.
 
I think a lot of the player transaction stuff depends on who is going to manage the team and what they're going to do with Yaya.  4-3-3 makes boatloads of sense, except it puts somewhere around a hundred million pounds of striker on your bench.  Aguero is an incredible player and City are lucky to have him.  He's worth building the team around and I live in fear that I'm going to wake up one day and Aguero has decided he wants to move to Madrid.  But when combined with Silva, it becomes a very tricky problem to solve.  Aguero can't play the role of target man striker, he just can't compete physically and it all but rules out playing any formation where he is a lone striker.  Whenever he's been alone up top he's been isolated and City have no pressure release on a long pass unless it is to feet or over the top.  You can of course imagine Aguero in a 4-4-1-1, but Silva is the natural #10 in that formation, and now you've got two midgets as the release valve, which also doesn't work in practice (and it's what City went to against liverpool, not 4-5-1, strictly speaking).  So you're almost stuck with 2 strikers, and one probably has to be a big guy to help the midfield and defense and accomplish some hold up play.  Then if you incorporate Silva, who is absolutely worth incorporating, you're starting to have the makings of a 4-4-2, or, as you pointed out, a 4-3-3.  I think the formation that probably makes the most sense on current personnel would be a 4-3-3 with Aguero left, sort of like Messi or Neymar, cutting inside and having a free role with a large striker like Bony or Dzeko as the tip of the spear with Silva free on the right.  This would essentially free all 3 of them from defensive responsibility, which is essentially how they play today anyway, but would not require the front 2 to press the ball, which they simply haven't ever done.
 
But if City were to move to a 4-3-3 in this football manager SIM, they probably need to sit Toure back in his Barca role, hoping he can tackle well enough to play at the base, because I don't think he can shuttle as an outside mid in a 4-3-3 consistently enough to provide the defensive solidarity you'd want this change to produce.  Fernandinho can easily play this role for a year or two, and Milner probably could, more or less, but realistically City are lacking that Fernandinho clone to make this work.  Seeing City linked with Koke and Pogba makes this make sense, as either of those players can likely play that role, but realistically they'd need two very, very good midfielders to have the squad depth for the formation.  In any case, a 4-3-3 would probably give City some additional defensive solidarity, although they'd have still been outnumbered against Liverpool in the midfield.  But right now the problem is that it's really a 4-2-2-2 and even the base 2 are getting forward in attack (Fernandinho and Yaya) while Silva, Nasri, Dzeko, Aguero do absolutely no pressing of the ball to win it back.  It's just suicidal attack after suicidal attack, and the defenders are being left far too exposed.  If City really wanted to play 4-4-x, then Silva and Nasri can't both occupy part of that 4, it just doesn't provide enough cover.
 
I think I'd add that the reason why this system worked so well before it didn't is largely the evolution of tactics against City.  By the end of Mancini's run, any team that wanted a result could capably set out to park a bus and probably at least draw the match.  City consistently faced 11 men behind the ball and really struggled to unlock this until Pellegrini showed up and committed nearly everyone to the attack save the two CBs.  As a result, the goals flowed against these packed defenses.  But the teams have learned to adapt and have certainly learned that you're not going to survive 90 minutes against this version of City by simply trying to absorb their attacking intent.  The natural counter to all of this has been to take advantage of the space City leaves through the attack commitment, especially considering the poor commitment by City's players to winning the ball back as quickly as possible.  It's for this reason, more than any, that I think a managerial change and a large squad change may prove necessary.  If City were to entice Pep or Simeone or someone to City, they'd inherit a squad that simply isn't equipped to play football the way it is played at the highest levels right now.  Maybe Nasri and Silva and the like can play this way, but Pellegrini was known for this style of football before coming to City and just can't seem to get the players to press the opposition to go along with the high line.  I don't know that another manager can change that, that's largely about the mix of players and their skillsets.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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teddykgb said:
 
Both may very well be likely.  Right now City just have to secure Top 4.  I can't imagine that changing the manager improves that, so the summer will be very interesting.  Manuel probably needs to show a willingness to adapt, but the current players executing the current system will likely be far more than enough to get the results needed to stay in the CL and keep the financials solid.  That has to be goal #1 at this point.
 
I think a lot of the player transaction stuff depends on who is going to manage the team and what they're going to do with Yaya.  4-3-3 makes boatloads of sense, except it puts somewhere around a hundred million pounds of striker on your bench.  Aguero is an incredible player and City are lucky to have him.  He's worth building the team around and I live in fear that I'm going to wake up one day and Aguero has decided he wants to move to Madrid.  But when combined with Silva, it becomes a very tricky problem to solve.  Aguero can't play the role of target man striker, he just can't compete physically and it all but rules out playing any formation where he is a lone striker.  Whenever he's been alone up top he's been isolated and City have no pressure release on a long pass unless it is to feet or over the top.  You can of course imagine Aguero in a 4-4-1-1, but Silva is the natural #10 in that formation, and now you've got two midgets as the release valve, which also doesn't work in practice (and it's what City went to against liverpool, not 4-5-1, strictly speaking).  So you're almost stuck with 2 strikers, and one probably has to be a big guy to help the midfield and defense and accomplish some hold up play.  Then if you incorporate Silva, who is absolutely worth incorporating, you're starting to have the makings of a 4-4-2, or, as you pointed out, a 4-3-3.  I think the formation that probably makes the most sense on current personnel would be a 4-3-3 with Aguero left, sort of like Messi or Neymar, cutting inside and having a free role with a large striker like Bony or Dzeko as the tip of the spear with Silva free on the right.  This would essentially free all 3 of them from defensive responsibility, which is essentially how they play today anyway, but would not require the front 2 to press the ball, which they simply haven't ever done.
 
But if City were to move to a 4-3-3 in this football manager SIM, they probably need to sit Toure back in his Barca role, hoping he can tackle well enough to play at the base, because I don't think he can shuttle as an outside mid in a 4-3-3 consistently enough to provide the defensive solidarity you'd want this change to produce.  Fernandinho can easily play this role for a year or two, and Milner probably could, more or less, but realistically City are lacking that Fernandinho clone to make this work.  Seeing City linked with Koke and Pogba makes this make sense, as either of those players can likely play that role, but realistically they'd need two very, very good midfielders to have the squad depth for the formation.  In any case, a 4-3-3 would probably give City some additional defensive solidarity, although they'd have still been outnumbered against Liverpool in the midfield.  But right now the problem is that it's really a 4-2-2-2 and even the base 2 are getting forward in attack (Fernandinho and Yaya) while Silva, Nasri, Dzeko, Aguero do absolutely no pressing of the ball to win it back.  It's just suicidal attack after suicidal attack, and the defenders are being left far too exposed.  If City really wanted to play 4-4-x, then Silva and Nasri can't both occupy part of that 4, it just doesn't provide enough cover.
 
I think I'd add that the reason why this system worked so well before it didn't is largely the evolution of tactics against City.  By the end of Mancini's run, any team that wanted a result could capably set out to park a bus and probably at least draw the match.  City consistently faced 11 men behind the ball and really struggled to unlock this until Pellegrini showed up and committed nearly everyone to the attack save the two CBs.  As a result, the goals flowed against these packed defenses.  But the teams have learned to adapt and have certainly learned that you're not going to survive 90 minutes against this version of City by simply trying to absorb their attacking intent.  The natural counter to all of this has been to take advantage of the space City leaves through the attack commitment, especially considering the poor commitment by City's players to winning the ball back as quickly as possible.  It's for this reason, more than any, that I think a managerial change and a large squad change may prove necessary.  If City were to entice Pep or Simeone or someone to City, they'd inherit a squad that simply isn't equipped to play football the way it is played at the highest levels right now.  Maybe Nasri and Silva and the like can play this way, but Pellegrini was known for this style of football before coming to City and just can't seem to get the players to press the opposition to go along with the high line.  I don't know that another manager can change that, that's largely about the mix of players and their skillsets.
 
Interesting thoughts Teddy.  Michael Cox published a pretty good piece yesterday on why some of City's players don't mesh together well, which echoes some of what you wrote.
 
I think a 4-3-3 with Aguero and Silva as the wide forwards and a lot of investment to rebuild the midfield - getting rid of Yaya and adding a more energetic box-to-box player (very interesting to see whether City is in for Pogba) as well as a passer/deeper lying playmaker (a guy like Cabaye could be an option here, although he's getting old) - might be a plausible way forward.
 

blueguitar322

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Klopp might be leaving Dortmund this summer despite renewing his contract through 2018 a year and a half ago.  It's hard to find potential coaching openings in top-10 teams in the world - except for City (and maybe Real Madrid if Ancelotti doesn't stay).  You all think there's any chance that City press hard (pun intended) for Klopp this summer?  It'd be very interesting to see what he'd do with a City roster that is getting older and might not have the endurance necessary to play Klopp's heavy metal style.
 

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It would be a huge get, but what do you think his approach with this squad would be? I feel like if he tried to play his pressing/tempo style, half the players would be dead before the New Year. Would he change his approach or look to change the squad? 
 

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I think they're focused on getting Pep in 2016 more than anything.  There have been a few media reports linking Alejandro Sabella to the job, and Rafa Benitez looks like he wants out of Napoli and his family is still on Merseyside.  Either one could be a bridge to Pep.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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DLew On Roids said:
I think they're focused on getting Pep in 2016 more than anything.  There have been a few media reports linking Alejandro Sabella to the job, and Rafa Benitez looks like he wants out of Napoli and his family is still on Merseyside.  Either one could be a bridge to Pep.
 
Unfortunately for all of us, I think its more likely that Guardiola ends up coaching the other Manchester club.
 

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Kompany may be done for the year
 
 
Vincent Kompany may not play again this season for Manchester City with Manuel Pellegrini unsure how long the captain will be ruled out for.
 
Wilfried Bony, Gaël Clichy, Stevan Jovetic and James Milner will also miss Sunday’s visit of West Ham United.
 
The captain and central defender suffered the injury during Sunday’s 4-2 derby defeat at Manchester United and was taken off at half-time.
 
Pellegrini said: “He has a muscle injury – we don’t know how long. We don’t know if he will be fit before the end of the season.”
 

PedroSpecialK

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I'd say this helps Liverpool's chances, but with how Kompany's played this season I'm not sure.
 
Does Touré slide back as a CB?
 
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