Manuel Pellegrini replaced Dzeko at the interval. Pellegrini could hardly be blamed for making a change. Dzeko's contribution to Manchester City's cause against Hull City can best be summed up by all the dashes next to his name on the statistics report.
Moreover, Manchester City had been pushed around on their home pitch by Hull City for the better part of 45 minutes. If last week's shock loss to Cardiff City was a hiccup, anything but a victory at home over Hull City would have been a full-blown seizure.
Pellegrini had plenty of buttons available to push at halftime. Aleksandar Kolarov had run like a man with sandbags in his shorts. Joleon Lescott had committed an awful turnover that sprung Hull City forward Sone Aluko for a chance he should have easily converted. Fernandinho was in the book needlessly from the 23rd minute on.
Despite it all, Pellegrini yanked Dzeko for Alvaro Negredo.
Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News felt like maybe Negredo should have been out there in the first place:
Thought Negredo was unlucky not to start today. On now in place of Dzeko who didn't really do very much,— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) August 31, 2013
The move paid nearly instant dividends, as Negredo thumped home a well-weighted Pablo Zabaleta cross to put Manchester City on the board and (sort of) ease the tangible fears of the Etihad faithful.
Watching from the bench in street clothes with a disaffected look on his face was Dzeko. The imposing Bosnian striker was the creator of his own undoing against Hull City, but that probably did not dominate his thinking during the second half.
What Dzeko might well have been thinking was, "here we go again."
Dzeko unapologetically campaigned for a place in Manchester City's first team under former manager Roberto Mancini, ultimately to little effect.
Though Dzeko loathed the tag "super-sub," the fact that he led Manchester City in Premier League goals in 2012-13 despite starting only half the matches he appeared in is the rare statistic that does not lie.
One of Pellegrini's first orders of business as Manchester City's manager was to assuage Dzeko. Pellegrini told the Metro that Dzeko was "the main striker of the team and I’m sure his performance along the season will be really good."
Predictably, Dzeko loved hearing that. "The manager gives me more confidence and that is a good thing. I think that you can see that on the pitch," said Dzeko, according to beinSPORT.
Dzeko did everything but score against Newcastle United in Manchester City's opener. He opened the scoring at Cardiff City, but his teammates (particularly the defenders) capitulated, and his goal became an afterthought.
Such an afterthought, in fact, that Dzeko spent the past week reading of Pellegrini's sudden change of heart.
Per Declan Warrington of the Daily Mail, Pellegrini fired this warning shot at Dzeko: "I told him that if he wants to stay here we must see the player Manchester City bought two years ago."
Pellegrini wasn't done: "Dzeko played well against Newcastle – not very, very well because he must score. We have other important strikers so we should be in very good shape."
It is worth noting here that Sergio Aguero has not exactly been a dominant force for the Sky Blues this season. Negredo, in limited time, has been Manchester City's most useful striker.
If Pellegrini's intent was to inspire Dzeko with his warning, The Engineer had better go back to the drawing board—because Dzeko's play against Hull City was anything but inspired.
As a result, it took Pellegrini five halves of Premier League football to back out on his word to Dzeko.
Pellegrini's reasons for doing so were sound, and Dzeko's replacement scored. Manchester City won a match they could not afford to lose, so some uncomfortable questions about whether Pellegrini can survive in the Premier League were staved off for a day.
Unfortunately, Pellegrini won only one match with his undermining of Dzeko.
He can only hope he did not lose Dzeko in the process.