In true typical City fashion, Martin Demichelis, the man bought to alleviate City’s lack of defensive cover, has somehow managed to put himself on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury for at least six weeks before kicking a ball. You couldn’t make it up. It is beyond comical.
Unfortunately, however, City find themselves back in the same position as they were before Demichelis arrived: with only two fit and established centre-halves in Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic. With the transfer window finally closing on Monday and a busy period of two games a week on the horizon after the international break, Manuel Pellegrini must rely on the squad he has to provide cover in central defence. Here’s a look at what options are available to him.
Richards would be the obvious choice to provide cover in central defence. Although best a right-back he has proven over the years that he is more than capable at centre-half. Under the management of Sven Goran-Eriksson, Richards was partnered with Richard Dunne at the back and was a revelation. Since then he has occasionally played in the centre but only when injury to the first choice centre-halves have required him to.
With Pablo Zabaleta having made right-back his own over the course of last season, Richards may find it tough to displace him. Providing cover at centre-half could be the ideal opportunity for Richards to show Pellegrini was he is about.
The only remaining centre-half on the books is Dedryck Boyata. Whether he has the quality to play for City is questionable. He has barely kicked a ball for the club in the last two seasons after going out on loan to Bolton two seasons ago and then FC Twente last season. Given Pellegrini’s limited resources at the back Boyata must have entered his thought process but it seems that Javi Garcia is preferred at the moment. As much as it would be nice to see Boyata get some first team minutes it is unlikely. After all, he is not even listed as a player on the official City site.
Alarm bells ring when Garcia is selected in midfield. Fans simply melt down when he is selected at centre-half. Though better in midfield Garcia has consistently proved during his time at City that he is a liability. With no real pace to recover from the mistakes that he will inevitably make it is a concern that City may have to rely on him so heavily at the very beginning of the season. Pellegrini’s reputation is built upon being able to get the best out of his players so here’s hoping Manuel can turn around Garcia’s fortunes.
I have never seen Rodwell play at centre-half but he has experience playing there. His former boss, David Moyes, also saw Rodwell’s future as a centre-half but felt his attacking talents were better suited to midfield. Although more of an unknown quantity at the back he possesses bags more natural ability than Garcia so could do no worse.
Although unlikely, if Pellegrini’s decides to scrape the barrel there are a host of unattached defenders which could be signed. William Gallas and Titus Bramble* are available to name but a few. I, for one, would much prefer to see City youth players given a chance, even if they are not ready, ahead of the aforementioned free agents.
Now let’s all cross our fingers and hope that Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis get fit as soon as possible and stay fit for as long as possible.
*I am in no way seriously touting Titus Bramble as a potentially useful footballer for Manchester City Football Club, or any other club for that matter.
Written by Robert Toole