Manchester City: 5 Positions City Must Strengthen This Summer
Congratulations must be due to a Manchester City side that fought their way to a thrilling Premier League title.
But after the dust settles on their last-gasp win on Sunday, the very idea that an expensively assembled City squad finished a 38-game season on level points with a Manchester United team many consider to be one of their weakest in recent years will have played into Roberto Mancini’s mind.
Mancini seems to have realized this point himself, this week admitting to the press that he expects City to dip into the transfer market once again this summer.
As we look through the City squad, we see a world-class spine in Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, but we also see areas for further improvement, especially if City are to live up to their aspirations to compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Here are five positions Manchester City must strengthen this summer, along with my two cents on potential signings—and feel free to suggest yours in the comments below.
With City boasting the Premier League’s best defence this season, you might wonder why central defence finds its way onto this list.
While Vincent Kompany has continued to enforce his reputation as one of the finest defenders in Europe, and while Joleon Lescott has exhibited improvement as his defensive partner, City’s defence has a worrying lack of cover, with the oft-injured Kolo Toure and the error-prone Stefan Savic their backup options.
Savic is no doubt a hot prospect for the future, but City require an experienced defender as backup if they are to be competitive both in England and in Europe. Especially considering that Lescott is susceptible to the odd lack of concentration (as his mistake, which so nearly led to City blowing their title chances against QPR, showed).
One option would be to buy an outright first-choice partner for Kompany. Lescott as an experienced backup? Sounds pretty good to me.
With fantastic choices in Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta at right-back, Roberto Mancini is set in that position.
By contrast, with their current left-back options as Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, City’s weakest link might be on the left side of defence.
Both offer decent options going forward and on the counterattack, but they remain susceptible against the very best wingers, who will be targeting City’s left flank as an area to exploit.
With Kolarov being linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium this summer, City might find themselves short of options in his position soon.
Mancini would do well to address his left-back problem and bring in a first choice more than capable of completing his defensive jigsaw.
Vince’s picks: Jordi Alba (Valencia), Leighton Baines (Everton), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
City enjoy a glut of riches in their midfield; there are no ways around that.
Yet, for all of Yaya Toure’s superhuman abilities, his box-to-box effectiveness is often limited by starting him in a more withdrawn central midfield role.
Mancini recognizes Toure’s all-round game, which is why a key substitution he likes to make is to send on Nigel de Jong to liberate Toure from his defensive responsibilities.
Alongside Toure and de Jong is Gareth Barry, who has been a quietly impressive performer for Mancini this season, with his good use of quick passing and his ability to retain possession.
But to move up a level in European football, City require a ball-playing, goal-scoring midfielder whose defensive game is top-notch as well.
It’s a tough ask, of course, but it’s a must for truly world-class teams (see Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso).
Vince’s picks: Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Daniele de Rossi (Roma)
Yup, again with the already well-endowed midfield department.
But for all of City’s attacking midfield and wing options, only David Silva can be considered world class.
Samir Nasri has proven a useful acquisition, while Adam Johnson has the ability to provide a spark if needed, but James Milner has been underwhelming this season and has already found himself out of Mancini’s starting XI permanently.
With a phenomenal midfield base anchored by Yaya Toure and the creativity supplied by David Silva, City should be scoring plenty more from all areas of the pitch, starting with the wings. Simply put, their wingers have not been up to the business this season.
To truly strike fear into the hearts of the top European defences, Mancini needs to add a world-class winger capable of changing any game.
Vince’s picks: Eden Hazard (Lille), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
Last but not least is the striking department.
Sergio Aguero has enjoyed a stellar debut season, equaling Fernando Torres’ record haul for a foreigner’s debut season in the Premier League.
Alongside him, though, has been an ever-changing list of strike partners that Mancini can’t seem to make his mind on.
Edin Dzeko has turned in some clinical displays, and his timely intervention last Sunday was the catalyst toward City’s title success, but he is prone to drifting in and out of games, and hasn’t been prolific enough to be a first-choice striker in a Champions League-chasing team.
Carlos Tevez attracted headlines with his controversies earlier this season, and while he has returned to City’s first team in style with hardworking and effective displays in the final few weeks, he remains a combustible option up front.
Speaking of combustible, there’s no other striker more so than Mario Balotelli, who, for all of his talent and potential, is a huge liability for Mancini.
The solution? A reliable goal scorer who will be more than a handful for any defence in Europe.
Vince’s picks: Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)
It’s clear that City don’t intend to rest on their laurels and will be strengthening further this summer as they attempt to replicate their Premier League form in the Champions League.
I’ve presented my ideas for positions to strengthen and signings to consider.
Did you agree? Are there any areas that should be looked at first? Who else should Mancini consider?
Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in 10 Bold Predictions for City Next Season. Please also check out my writer’s profile, where you can find more of my work, and my blog, The Red Armchair, for Liverpool match reactions and opinions.