Manchester City splashed out £30 million for Fernandinho when they "swooped" (in true tabloid parlance) for the Brazilian during the summer. So what exactly did they get for that not inconsiderable amount of money?
OK, we're not even into November yet, but as the nights really draw in (in the UK at least, other countries are available, of course...) it's time to take stock of the impact the former Shakhtar Donetsk man has had so far.
He seemed to have the holding role tag attached to him almost straight away, but given the increasingly static midfield displays in the latter days of Roberto Mancini, what was wanted was more of a pass-sprayer from deep. More David Pizarro (who made a few cameo appearances for City in the title season) than Nigel de Jong, but one the Brazilian was accustomed to.
British fans have a long-held liking for midfield wrecking balls a bit more than players who have bite in the tackle and the ability to pass the ball, but Fernandinho's arrival seemed to hint at a more adventurous approach under Manuel Pellegrini than his predecessor.
The easy 4-0 win over Newcastle to kick off the season was a comfortable introduction for the big-money arrival, as the stats courtesy of Squawka show, with him bossing the middle of the park to the tune of 51.92% of his play right in the centre.
But it's been a struggle at times for City—including Fernandinho— since, studded with outstanding displays like the 4-1 demolition of Man United.
Even victories have not been straightforward at times, with the 2-0 win over Hull an example. The Brazilian did not look too happy before City took the lead, getting booked, mistiming tackles—i.e. not looking like a £30 million signing.
Left out of a disappointing goalless draw with Stoke with a Champions League tie looming a few days later, Fernandinho began to find his feet by impressing in Europe—a stage he's familiar with from Shakhtar, and one that City's owners are demanding success on from Pellegrini.
Viktoria Plzen allowed Fernandinho the room he'd been denied by better opponents in the Premier League, and from there he's gradually flourished.
The 3-1 win at West Ham shows him back to Newcastle-like dominance in midfield with a figure of 47%, good in the kind of match City needed to win to really challenge for the title. Home wins should be a given for a squad of their depth and talent, but tough away days are where the tough need to get going.
That's how it seemed with that win at Upton Park, with a nice bonus for Fernandinho in his pass for Sergio Aguero's opener.
And that's how it should have carried on at Chelsea on Sunday, in harness with Javi Garcia it was a display that should have earned Pellegrini's side a point until the almighty howler at the end that led to Fernando Torres' winner.
I'll admit, I thought Pellegrini would have gone a bit more attacking, like in the win over United, but packing the midfield worked and it all seems to hinge on Fernandinho. True, add Garcia (or Jack Rodwell, if he's ever trusted enough) to the Brazilian to add stability, but there's flexibility in the Blues squad to work around him.
Versatility is not what Fernandinho was brought in for, and City have the players to provide that while he sticks to what he was brought in for.
A goal would be nice though, but predecessor de Jong was not exactly a goal-machine, and with Sergio Aguero in such good form, anything from the Brazilian will be a bonus.
With his overall improvement, we can expect to see more of Fernandinho, but he'll be expecting his team-mates to step up and make mistakes like the ones that led to defeats at Aston Villa and Chelsea in the past.
All stats courtesy of Squawka.com.
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