5 Adjustments Manchester City Must Make to Win the Premier League
Despite achieving England's greatest footballing honor last year, Manchester City have failed to carry their on-field dominance into the new season. Failing to find superb form could easily have catastrophic coincidences for the Champions, and could result in a less than satisfactory finish.
In order for Manchester City to reclaim the title, Mancini must make some immediate changes to the tactics and selection of the squad. If I were in Roberto's shoes (what a life that would be!) I would make these five changes.
1. Focus on David Silva
"The Magician," as he is called, was a key player in the City midfield throughout the 2011/12 season. After a fabulous showing for Spain in Euro 2012, Silva has seen a stark decrease in playing time at the Etihad.
Citing "poor form" and "Euro recovery," Mancini has consistently placed Silva on the bench, or made him the first substitute. The results have been very detrimental to the squad.
Arguably the best play-maker on the pitch, Silva is capable of creating brilliance out of impossible situations. City's recent showings have seemed to lack a sense of fluidity—the only stylish play came through Yaya and Tevez.
Restoring Silva to his place at the hub of the attacking midfield would create a much more exciting and aggressive side. With Silva, Toure, and Nasri working to feed Tevez and Aguero (when healthy) City's attack would be the most formidable in England.
City needs someone to inspire the team through example, and Silva is that man. If you don't believe me, take a minute to watch this video.
2. Solidify the Centre-Back Pairing
City's defense will be the downfall of the squad. The back four has looked uneasy and nervous to this point, and needs to be corrected immediately if City are to succeed.
Kompany has been a rock at centre-back, and ought to remain the Goliath of the back four. The trouble has been finding a pairing. Last season it was Lescott. However, Joleon is prone to large mistakes and cannot be considered completely reliable. Sadly, Kolo Toure isn't much better.
I would take Lescott over Toure, but the decision is for Roberto to make. The problem is simply that he must make it. Mancini must pick a pairing in the back, and stick with it as much as possible.
3. Play More Defensive Outside Backs
City's defensive problem has been largely influenced by the outside backs playing more of a midfield role.
I am a fan of attacking play, but in a time of need, a strong defense is required. City has an unimaginable wealth of outside backs in Kolarov, Richards, Clichy, Zabaleta, and now Maicon.
Most, if not all, of these options are attack-minded defenders, but Mancini needs to have them play more defensively. Manchester City cannot afford to give up two to three goals every "challenging" game. If Southampton managed two goals, imagine what United could muster up.
The outside backs need to make the priority helping the centre-backs, rather than pushing the play down the wings—the star-studded midfield and attack can handle themselves.
4. Revive the Passion of Last Season
What happened to the enthusiastic, driven, and unrelenting City of last year?
The side have shown a look of complacency after achieving England's ultimate glory, but why? It seems to be a mystery.
Perhaps the mentality of Champions has become one of overconfidence rather than unwavering determination. City have allowed themselves to fall behind in multiple matches this season before realizing that they need to try to win.
Take Southampton for example. City went down 2-1 before the pre-defeat struggle revived the previously clouded skill of the Etihad side.
If City are to win the title, they first must adjust their collective mindset to make it one of soul-piercing drive and desire.
5. Use Edin Dzeko
After losing Aguero and Balotelli, Mancini has had his attacking options limited. Dzeko has become the No. 2 front man, and is capable of being just the man City needs.
His ability in the air provides a new dynamic to City play, and creates a new dilemma for opposing managers to deal with. Neither Tevez nor Aguero can match Dzeko's ability to head the ball, and because of this Edin is a great player to have at the Etihad.
He saw little of the field last season, but he should be the man to guide City during the striker drought. When paired with Tevez, City will boast an incredibly skilled ground man, and a colossal aerial threat.
Dzeko can be the man to make centre-backs shudder. He just needs the chance.