It seems just like yesterday when the Manchester City hierarchy had to show their financial strength to the world. Now, more than the finance, the brand of football has been the key to attracting players—even for the top talent from around the world. Gone are the days when City had to pay obnoxious amounts quoted by the clubs. Much of it is down to the mercurial manager and their performances on the pitch.
The Many Changes of Manchester City
Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva top the assists charts. Raheem Sterling has scored the most goals after 80 minutes. Sergio Aguero has become the all-time top scorer for the club, It is no surprise that City is doing so well. Manchester City used to be 11 mercenaries playing football. Now, it is a team performing as one cohesive unit.
Every player thinks of himself as a part of the team. This is why we see Aguero, a lethal finisher, square the ball through to Gabriel Jesus to score a tap-in. In the past, Aguero would have fancied himself with the shot. After a trophy-less campaign last year, Pep Guardiola was raring to have a go this time. For each and every trophy up for grab too. Hence, he worked out that the team’s main weakness was defence. He replaced ageing fullbacks with young ones. He also brought in technically gifted ball playing young centre-backs. Now, his idea of ‘Total Football’ can be implicated without any hitch.
The changes have been far too many between this City and the previous seasons’ one. The strikers have been more ruthless, Young players like Sane and Sterling have been changed into dynamic players. A goalkeeper who could very well play in the midfield. Most of all, central midfielders playing at left back. Let’s take a look at the different ways Manchester City has changed itself with the demands of their manager.
Until last season, Manchester City was the team with one of the fewest headed goals and headed clearances in the whole league. Much of it was due to players who were lethal with their feet, but their height would let them down in the heading department. Players like Aguero, Nolito, Jesus, Sterling, Navas in the attack, defenders in Zabaleta, Clichy, Sagna and a 5’11” goalkeeper in Bravo who had a hard time adjusting to the English Premier League.
This season, the height of the defence has been bolstered. Supporting Stones, Otamendi and Kompany by bringing in defenders all in the excess of 6 feet including Kyle Walker (6’1”), Benjamin Mendy (6’1”), Aymeric Laporte (6’3”), Danilo (6’). This has made the Manchester City defence seem more intimidating and much more secure at the back. Ederson is 6’2” too. The clean sheets have been plenty this season with City keeping 11 till now.
CHANGES IN THE STYLE OF PLAY
The idea for playing this fluid style was there last season. But Pep Guardiola was often left disappointed with the players he had at City who weren’t fit enough to play the high-intensity football he wanted to play. Veterans like Pablo Zabaleta had been at the club for eight years. But it was true that their best days were behind them.
The more fluid attack that we see today has been down to recruitment. Manchester City has hardly signed anyone but Bernardo Silva to bolster their attack this season. So Pep does need to get a lot of credit for what he has done with the players he had last season.
Pep has made Sterling ruthless in front of goal. He is now amongst the top five in the race for the golden boot this season. Pep has worked with young talent in the past and each one of those speaks with the utmost respect. They mention how he has made them a better player. Same has happened with Leroy Sane who now no longer lacks the confidence to run into the box and take his man on.
Add to that the genius of Kevin De Bruyne, probably the Player of the Year and the way he has adapted to playing this deep lying play-maker role under Pep, he leads the assists chart but that’s not half the story. He has been the MOTM in 19 of the 27 games City has played in the league till now whilst scoring important goals against Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and Spurs.
CHANGE IN RECRUITMENT POLICY
After agreeing with the City representatives in the summer to join next season, things changed when his services were required mid-season, Man Utd joined the fray and offered astronomical wages for his services but City refused to be bullied into paying the amount that was asked.
A similar kind of thing happened with the transfer of Riyad Mahrez. The valuation put forth by Leicester was very different than at City. As usual, people at Leicester were confident that they could sell him for a huge amount since it is Manchester City. Even after offering player (Patrick Roberts) + cash in the deal, Leicester were determined to extract as much as they could. City pulled the plug at the last minute. Now Leicester were left with an unhappy player for the rest of the season.
A message was sent to all the clubs of Europe, gone are the days of Robinho and Valeri Bojinovs. Coming to City should be a dream come true for any player as it is a sure shot chance at winning silverware. If players choose money over that, then it is a testament to their character, not City’s.
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