Manchester City: How Jesus Navas Will Fit Into Manuel Pellegrini's Tactics
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Already, though, the new man has some new toys. Fernandinho was signed last week; he joins a spectacularly loaded midfield which boasts the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and, yes, the resurgent Samir Nasri.
Though Fernandinho cost City more money and is arguably the more accomplished player, Navas might actually have the greater chance to force his way into City's starting 11. Why?
Because, unless you think Scott Sinclair is going to suddenly reemerge, Navas has almost no competition on City's roster to play his natural position on the right wing.
Think about it. City has all those midfielders, sure, but even on the days when Nasri played well last season, he did not seriously approximate a wing player. That was due largely to former manager Roberto Mancini's dogged efforts to dominate possession and stifle opposing offenses by squeezing play into the center of the pitch whenever possible.
Come to think of it, Mancini sort of hated wing players, didn't he?
Adam Johnson was forever going to be the Next Big Thing at the Etihad. Then Mancini undermined Johnson, benched him and sold him. Sinclair came in with a fair amount of buzz. He is still waiting to have a meaningful minute in a City shirt, and he might wait forever at that.
Pellegrini has no such antipathy for wings. That is because Pellegrini does not seem to have antipathy for anything but turgid football.
The Pellegrini quote that several outlets are running in their analyses of the Chilean manager's hiring at City is a beauty.
Asked what his tactics were, Pellegrini said this to World Soccer (h/t the Guardian): "to be attacking, to try to take control of the game, to take responsibility, to be attractive. There are small differences of course, depending on what players you have, but there is a footballing concept and a concept of spectacle that is non‑negotiable."
Which is where a player like Jesus Navas comes in.
There is little point speculating which formation Pellegrini will employ, because according to a recent breakdown of Pellegrini's managerial history in the Guardian, he has tried so many:
At Villarreal he moved between a fluid 4-4-2 and a more dangerous 4-3-1-2 that allowed Juan Román Riquelme to play in his favoured role behind the strikers; at Real Madrid it was either a midfield diamond or a 4-2-3-1; at Málaga his favoured 4-2-3-1 has occasionally given way to more of a 4-4-2.
So, um, right. Good luck guessing what Pellegrini will come out in when the games start to count in August. With the summer transfer window wide open, even Pellegrini himself probably is not 100 percent certain.
Still, a player like Navas could have a ton of value to Pellegrini because Navas has two qualities Pellegrini prizes: speed and versatility.
Yes, this Mirror profile of Navas is a bit of a love note, but even viewing it through cautious eyes, it is hard to ignore some of David Cartlidge's more ecstatic observations about Navas.
Cartlidge breathlessly exults about Navas as "a throwback winger, sprinting down the right channel with baggy shorts, twisting and turning defenders like Ryan Giggs did back in his pomp, the agility he has is astonishing, and ability to turn opponents inside out before delivering a telling final ball."
Gee, is it hot in here? It's hard not to feel flush.
All mocking aside, Pellegrini probably cannot wait to start diagramming plans with Navas on the right side of the pitch set to cause no end of havoc, whether it's a 4-4-2, a 4-2-2-2, a 4-2-3-1 or something else.
After the season City just slogged through, just the thought of decent service to Sergio Aguero once in a while is a midsummer's dream.
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