written for By Far The Greatest Team
City’s limp title defence can largely be attributed to this season’s poor recruitment. Taking into account transfers from both the summer and January windows, our net spend is around £14m, with five players arriving, and five leaving. As the season draws to a close, it seems appropriate to assess the impact of City’s ins and outs.
An odd transfer even before we’d seen him play. It seems Scott Sinclair was signed to boost City’s homegrown quota of players rather than play an important role in first-team affairs. He’s barely featured, and when he has he’s looked like a deer in the headlights: overwhelmed by the task of being a Manchester City player, and way too eager to move the ball on, even when he has a chance to run at people. Having spoken to Swansea fans about him, it seems he wasn’t even a guaranteed starter for them, and their replacement, Pablo Hernandez, is a far better player. A strange transfer to say the least. It would be good for everyone if he finds himself another club this summer and gets playing football again.
Verdict: A failure at £8m
A series of hamstring injuries have ruined Rodwell’s debut season at City, but we’ve seen enough in the appearances he has made to know this is a talented player. I was always a fan right from the time he burst on to the scene as a youngster at Everton. Clearly his hamstrings are a problem, with the club trying all sorts of treatments – from yoga to new car seats – in attempt to cure him of the problem, but it’s also clear he has ability. It was heartbreaking to see him carried off at Villa Park in March after his brilliant display against Chelsea a week earlier. He was hitting a groove until his season was cruelly brought to a halt once again. A hattrick in an EDS match this week suggests we may get to see him again before the season’s out. At £12m, he could be a great buy if we can find a solution to his injury problems.
Verdict: It hasn’t worked out this season, but if we can get him fit he certainly has a future.
Rarely has a new signing been such an overwhelming success. For £12m (including Savic moving the other way), I feel like we should be going back to Fiorentina and giving them what they really deserve. They have been robbed blind. At 20 years of age, his maturity is staggering. He rarely makes tackles because he doesn’t need to – he’s one step ahead of everyone else. It’s barely an exaggeration to say he’s hardly broken sweat in a City shirt; he just breezes through matches with consummate ease. Quite how he didn’t figure on the PFA Young Player of the Year list is a mystery to me. For a teenager (as he was when he signed) to swan into the Premier League at a high-profile club and play the way he has is nothing short of incredible, and he and Kompany could form a brilliant, long-term partnership at the heart of the City defence. One of the best signings of Mancini’s reign.
Verdict: A huge success
OK he only cost us £3m, and he’s been injured for much of the season, but I still wonder why we did this deal. Maicon will no doubt have signed a big-money contract, yet we were already particularly well stocked at right-back and didn’t need to saddle ourselves with an aging player who is, in my opinion, a spent force. We caught a glimpse of him at his most useful early in the season when we brought him on in the home match against Spurs, playing him extremely high up the pitch on the right in attempt to turn the screw. It worked. He caused Spurs problems and we won the match, but that’s about where his useful contribution ended. It really hasn’t worked out.
Verdict: Why bother?
The most expensive of our summer signings at £16m, Javi Garcia has featured more than our other new signings, playing 22 games so far for the club. His performances have ranged from disastrous (Wigan away), to mildly effective (Madrid home). In other words, he’s had games where he has looked really poor, and games where he’s been neat and tidy. For £16m, however, you’d expect a lot more. If he looked like he had the attributes to be a class player but just needed time to adjust to the league, I’d be happy to wait and see him flourish, but his painful lack of pace and general poor passing makes me sceptical whether he can ever be any more than what he’s shown this season, which has been underwhelming, to say the least.
Adebayor is the kind of player any fan would happily drive to potential buyers in order to smooth a deal over. His attitude was dreadful, as were his performances. If he didn’t fancy it, there’s rarely been a more useless player in a City shirt. We got £5m for him and I would have taken that all day long. His ego is the only thing that comes close to the size of the contract he was on at City, and his bitter obsession with criticising former employers is baffling. He’s a weird man and a very poor player.
Verdict: Good move for us.
The sale of Adam Johnson for £10m to Sunderland raised a few eyebrows outside of the club. Opposition fans and media commentators were under the impression we were stupid to sell him; that he was an outstanding young talent being held back by Mancini’s reluctance to give him game time. The view from the majority of City fans was that he was a lazy liability, who had done a pretty decent job of scuppering his own City career after a very bright start. It seems the City fans were correct. We signed him for £5m, got some useful performances out of him early on, and when it became clear he didn’t have the mentality to be a top player we sold him for a profit. He’s been poor for Sunderland this season (despite his goal against us), providing further evidence that he doesn’t have what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
Verdict: Absolutely brilliant deal for us.
Used as a makeweight in the deal which saw Nastasic arrive, Savic’s value in that move was £3m. Anyone who saw him play for us, even for a second, will know we had to move him on. I’m not sure I’ve seen someone look quite so nervous in a City shirt since Richard Edghill was hounded off the pitch by a chorus of boos from the City fans back at Maine Road. Savic was scared of the ball, wasn’t very big or strong, and had awful positional sense; not the best mix for a centre-back. Mancini saddled us with him but quickly rectified it by moving him on and bringing a world-beater in the process. Job well done.
Verdict: Right move for everyone concerned.
Nigel De Jong
This is a transfer which divides opinion amongst the City fans. There are many who long for his return, and blame this season’s failures on our decision to move him on. They believe he would have played a key role this season, and that the ‘De Jong sized hole’ in our midfield has been debilitating. This is nonsense. We had a player on huge wages whose contract was running down, and who was unlikely to sign another one since his appearances were reducing all the time. Last season – the season we won the title and played the best football seen at City for decades – De Jong only started 11 Premier League matches. His influence was waning, and his contract decreasing. He also had a rather limited game, operating in one very narrow strip of the pitch just in front of the back four. Mancini, wanting to evolve his title winning side, earmarked Javi Martinez as a replacement: a player who would do the De Jong role of snuffing out opposition attacks, but also play the kind of technical, passing football Mancini wants his City side to play. If we had signed Martinez, the moans from fans about De Jong’s sale would have been more muted. That’s not to say we haven’t missed him at all this season, he provided a great Plan B (bring De Jong off the bench and push Yaya Toure further forward), but to suggest a player who rarely started for us is a huge miss is wide of the mark.
Verdict: Right decision to sell for £5m.
Mario will forever be etched into City folklore. A brilliantly talented player who was fantastic fun to have around, he gave us some moments we’ll never forget, including a brilliant performance and two goals in the 6-1 victory at Old Trafford. His off-field antics eventually became too much, and his potential wasn’t being fully realised. When an offer of almost £20m came in from AC Milan, a club he wanted to play for, it seemed like the best move all round. He left with the best wishes of City fans who want to see him become a success. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him playing in blue again before his career ends.
Verdict: Right move for everyone concerned.
written by Rob Pollard