Manchester City's Path to Improvement During January Transfer Window

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIOctober 24, 2013

The sight of Garcia watching the ball go past Hart is beyond played out.
The sight of Garcia watching the ball go past Hart is beyond played out.Warren Little/Getty Images

After spending over £100 million over the summer, Manchester City have so few needs that the thought of a spate of buying in January is ridiculous.

Look at the roster now. If you did not know better, you would have to think they can play 13 or 14 at a time.

It's still only 11 to a side, though, which makes it all the more confusing how Manchester City have nine defenders on the roster and still deem it necessary to put reserve midfielder Javi Garcia in the injured Vincent Kompany's place in a Champions League match.

To his credit, Garcia was better against CSKA Moscow than he had been against West Ham United in the prior match. Though he was nowhere to be found on Zoran Tosic's lob marker past Joe Hart.

Regardless, Manchester City are inappropriately and inexcusably reduced to hoping Garcia does not cost them matches of enormous import in Kompany's absence. A side with real championship aspirations should not be that desperate for cover at centre-back.

Therefore, Manchester City's plan at the January transfer window should have two prongs.

First, find a credible centre-back to run with Kompany and Matija Nastasic on the odd occasions when one of them is lost to injury.

Second, jettison some of the dead wood. More on that in a moment.

Manchester City are all set at striker for now. Stevan Jovetic, who would start for at least 15 other teams in the Premier League, cannot get a sniff right now the way Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and even Edin Dzeko have played this season.

Similarly, the midfield is still insanely packed with talent. Manchester City need another midfielder like CeeLo Green needs more bad publicity. That they could afford to exile Gareth Barry to Everton tells you all you need to know there.

And Joe Hart has turned in a number of strong performances in the weeks since his shaky outing at Aston Villa cost his side at least one point.

Manchester City's only need is at centre-back. Not surprisingly, the transfer rumour sites are relatively quiet in late October, so there are not many credible sources to link to about who Manuel Pellegrini might be after in January.

Kompany is great when he plays. But it is just not often enough any more.
Kompany is great when he plays. But it is just not often enough any more./Getty Images

Regardless, the Sky Blues have to sign another centre-back in the winter window. They cannot continue to be held hostage by Kompany's thighs, groin, ankle, etc.

That Manchester City need to sign a centre-back means that utterly useless players like Joleon Lescott need to leave the Etihad in January.

Think about it. Lescott's decline is so complete that Pellegrini prefers to play Garcia out of position as against playing Lescott in his natural spot. Lescott has to go.

Similarly, it may be time to admit that (other than Nastasic) the summer 2012 transfer window was an utter bust and part ways with either Jack Rodwell or, if a centre-back is signed, Garcia. Or both.

It would continue the trend that started with Maicon's quiet departure and Scott Sinclair's loan to West Bromwich Albion. That Sinclair has remained toothless with the Baggies should come as a surprise to no one.

As Pellegrini continues to refine Manchester City's roster, he should be given leave to erase the mistakes of the past regime even if it comes at a cost.

Seeing Lescott, Rodwell and/or Garcia go at this point would be addition by subtraction for a side that is creating its own identity under Pellegrini.

Pellegrini has said that he wants two players for every position on the squad.

Right now, he has too many midfielders, arguably one too many strikers and one too few centre-backs.

All that can be fixed in January.