Sergio Aguero: 6 Reasons the Manchester City Forward Is Set for a Big Season
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And now it is time for me to stop mentioning it.
Not that it was not a transcendent moment for any City fan. It absolutely was.
But that was fifteen months ago. So much has changed for City and for Aguero since that great day; precious little of the change has been very happy.
Better to turn eyes forward and look for brighter days from Aguero, who, even in what was largely a lost campaign last season, turned in the occasional blinder.
Last year's frustration and difficulty promises to be this season's redemption for Aguero and, if form holds, for his fellow Sky Blues.
Because, when Aguero is on, City are awfully tough to beat.
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It would be overstating things to say Aguero was shackled when Roberto Mancini ran City. But, except for very rare displays of open play, Mancini's teams specialized in low-scoring matches won by one slim goal.
New City boss Manuel Pellegrini declared from the moment he took over for Mancini that those old tactics were over.
As reported by Saj Chowdhury of BBC Sport, Pellegrini promised a different way: "Man City fans will see a different way of playing than they have seen in other years. We will try to be an attractive team."
That had to be thrilling for an action player like Aguero to hear that.
So far, Pellegrini has been true to his word. Both of City's first two Premier League matches featured plenty of scoring, though the last one saw City draw the short end.
Aguero is already on the board with a really deft touch of a finish against Newcastle in the season opener.
If opposing teams give City room to maneuver, Aguero will have scoring chances by the dozen.
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Right now, Pellegrini's decision to pour all of his summer transfer window money into two starting midfielders and two reserve strikers looks a touch shortsighted.
Pellegrini could not have predicted that both Matija Nastasic and Vincent Kompany would be unavailable for the second match of City's Premier League season. But they were out, and it showed.
Once City's back line heals up—the Sky Blues miss Micah Richards, too—Pellegrini's emphasis on the offensive game will inure to Aguero's benefit.
In the past two seasons, Aguero depended heavily on service from midfield stalwarts Yaya Toure and David Silva to free him with the ball.
Those two midfielders started a combined 125 Premier League matches in the past two seasons; Toure was sometimes playing in Africa when he was not with the Citizens.
Both men wore down perceptibly as the long seasons limped on toward May.
Pellegrini must have noticed because his first two signings were midfield reinforcements in Fernandinho and Jesus Navas.
Navas in particular was brought to Manchester to widen City's attack formations and draw defenders away from the box.
City's absurd depth at midfield is designed in large part to guarantee decent service to Aguero.
Money and Stability
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Even as the sky was falling around the Sky Blues in May, City kept their heads about them long enough to tend to important business.
Aguero signed a one year contract extension with City in late May, per Declan Warrington of The Daily Mail.
City convinced Aguero to re-up even as their search for a manager to replace Roberto Mancini was ongoing.
"I'm very happy at City and I feel very appreciated," Aguero said according to Warrington. "It's been barely two years since I've arrived and sometimes I feel like I've been here for all my life."
His 48 goals in 69 City starts probably had something to do with City's desire to keep him in their colors.
As Richard Jolly reported recently for ESPNFC.com, Aguero spurned other opportunities to stay with City.
"The Argentina international striker was linked with Real Madrid, who were also interested in buying him when he joined City from Atletico Madrid, but insisted he was happy to stay at the Etihad Stadium," Jolly wrote.
Whether or not Aguero ultimately sees the entire term of the contract out, the extension proved to Aguero that City valued him significantly.
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The difference a year makes can be astonishing.
City opened the 2012-13 season with as formidable a strike force as any Sky Blues fan could have hoped for.
Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko were projected not just to beat opposing defenses, but to embarrass them. Balotelli, especially, seemed primed to cause managers nightmares.
And he did. Starting with his own.
By the end of the season, Balotelli was gone, Dzeko was an afterthought and Aguero was still working through persistent leg injuries that hampered his production.
Since then, Mancini and Tevez have joined Balotelli as City alumni. Pellegrini, to his credit, did not hesitate to get Aguero and Dzeko some much-needed help.
Dzeko, though, is the real story. Pellegrini announced his faith in Dzeko, and the big man has responded with high energy play in each of City's first two league matches.
Aguero's mind should be clearer knowing he has so many capable teammates up front.
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Right. So no one is guaranteed to stay healthy. That is not the point.
Aguero came into this season with questions surrounding his conditioning and match fitness. That he did not play much in the preseason did nothing to quell those concerns.
As noted before, though, Aguero not only started the season opener against Newcastle, he scored too.
Even Mooney concedes, though, that Aguero is constantly a threat to redeem dozens of fruitless minutes with one or two moments of brilliance.
"It seems that the striker can be anonymous for an hour, before popping up with a goal in the 61st minute, and finishing the game without another touch of the ball," Mooney wrote.
Which is why keeping Aguero healthy must be a priority for Pellegrini.
When he is right, and until/unless Dzeko can supplant him, Aguero is still City's best and most opportunistic striker.
Still the Alpha Dog
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Watching City's frantic onslaught at the end of their disappointing loss at Cardiff City reinforced a point that ardent City observers already knew.
When City needs a goal, they still look to Aguero to get it for them.
That he did not finish either of those chances can lead one to miss the point.
Negredo's goal to cut the lead to 3-2 was a splendid one, but it came from nothing and, in the moment, seemed to be merely good work after bad.
Then the referee's whistle kept silent for minutes longer than any Cardiff City fan thought possible and there was Aguero looking more than once like the player who would pull a point back for the Sky Blues.
It did not happen.
But the entire sequence revealed that Aguero is still City's feature striker until further notice.