6 Reasons Why Manchester City Should Sell Micah Richards
Richards probably believed last summer that the departure of former City manager Roberto Mancini could work out for him. Manuel Pellegrini's arrival gave Richards a chance to prove himself anew.
But nearly a third of the Premier League season is gone, and Richards is pretty much persona non grata at City.
Richards started two of City's 12 Premier League matches. He also got a Champions League start—the 3-1 annihilation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the Etihad that showered no Citizen in glory.
Here are six reasons why City should sell Richards in the January transfer window.
Richards Has an Unrealistic View of His Ability
Say this for Micah Richards: the Manchester City right-back does not lack for self-belief.
Simon Mullock's 2011 report for The Mirror included this choice of stream of consciousness from Richards, a torrent of "I love me some me" that would make Mario Balotelli blush:
When I’m fit I feel I am as good as anyone not just in the Premier League or Europe, but in the world. People might say that I am arrogant, but when I am 100 per cent fit and fully focused then I am as good as anyone around. I really am that confident.
Confidence is a prerequisite to playing football at the highest level. But that confidence needs to be measured to match with reality.
Richards was not the best right-buack in the world at any point in time. That he apparently believed he was indicates not confidence, but delusion.
Recent reports suggest that, despite his present status as a squad player at City, Richards still sees himself as something special.
Discussing his return from injury, Richards had this to say in October according to Richard Jolly of ESPNFC.com: "I am back fit now and believe when I'm fit I am as good as anyone in the division playing that role.”
If you say so, Micah.
Pablo Zabaleta Has a Lock on City's Right-Back Position
Entering the 2013-14 Premier League campaign, it was not lost on Micah Richards that Pablo Zabaleta had both hands on the right-back position at City—and was not about to let go.
In a fairly cagey display this past summer, Richards lobbied for a piece of a time share with Zabaleta at right-back. Presumably Richards figured that half a loaf was better than none.
"I know there are a lot of games and I don't expect to play every game, but the season we won the league, me and Zaba rotated really well together. If we can do that this season, I'll be happy," said Richards in July according to Sky Sports.
Zabaleta has started 10 of City's 12 Premier League matches and three of City's four Champions League matches. City have yet to lose a Champions League match this season with Zabaleta at right-back.
Richards Failed to Establish His Value When Vincent Kompany Went Down
Micah Richards was presented a gift-wrapped opportunity to prove his value to Manchester City when starting centre-back and captain Vincent Kompany lost much of the season's first third to injury.
Kompany's troubles began with a groin injury in the season opener against Newcastle United. Kompany missed Manchester City's next three Premier League matches, and his absence was more than noticeable.
Manchester City lost a late lead at Cardiff City, then the match itself, as stand-in centre-back Javi Garcia was bullied on late set pieces. City's defense held at Stoke City three weeks later, but only barely in a tepid scoreless draw.
That Garcia was preferred to Richards at centre-back against both Cardiff City and Stoke is a real indictment of Richards.
Not surprisingly, Richards could not understand why a player of his obvious greatness was overlooked.
“It’s been annoying, to be honest, because (Matija) Nastasic was out and then Kompany was ruled out, so it would have been the perfect time for me to slot in at centre-back,” Richards said at the end of September according to David Anderson of the Mirror.
Well, Kompany has been out of Manchester City's line-up with a thigh injury since October 5. And Richards has not made any starts at centre-back for the Sky Blues in those seven weeks, either.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini obviously does not trust Richards at centre-back, further decreasing his value to the club.
Richards Collects His Mail in the Physio's Room
Richard Tanner of the Express succinctly laid out the injury problems Micah Richards has had in recent days.
"Defender Richards, 25, missed most of last season with a knee injury and the start of the current campaign with a pulled hamstring but after three appearances believes his problems are behind him," Tanner wrote.
Of course, that oversimplifies things a bit.
However, former City boss Roberto Mancini did have some concerns about how long it took Richards to arise from the trainer's table once fall had turned into winter and then into spring.
"This is strange, I don't know how this is possible. We can't do anything," Mancini said in March of 2013 according to ESPN.co.uk. "I hope that maybe in three or four weeks he'll be ready. His knee was not 100%, he continues to work and now he has been working for two months."
It is never a good sign when the manager is questioning a player's recovery time.
Unfortunately for Richards, a new manager and a new season did not mean leaving old troubles behind. The hamstring injury Richards picked up before the season started effectively ruined any chance Richards had to impress the new boss.
Recent Antics from Richards Suggest He Just Does Not Get It
In professional sports, "practical joke" is an oxymoron in the category of "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence." Practical jokes are neither practical nor particularly funny in an industry where the stakes are so high.
Micah Richards may have missed that memo, though.
At a recent shoot for a Manchester City television advertisement, Richards spoofed the camera crew and the club photographer by pretending to pull his hamstring during the production. Jamie Sanderson of the Metro tells the tale:
After slipping during the shoot, Richards appears in front of the camera crew – holding his hamstring and insisting he is badly injured. The dazzled ladies involved were all concerned before Richards admitted it was all a joke – sending the room into uproar.
Yeah, that's hilarious. Richards, a player "dogged by injury trouble throughout his career" decides to have a little fun with club personnel by pretending to get hurt during a photo shoot. Brilliant.
Richards is the last footballer on Earth who needs even a farcical connection to a disabling injury. This recent foible indicates that Richards does not approach his injury problems with appropriate seriousness.
There is no way Richards is ingratiating himself with manager Manuel Pellegrini acting like this.
Despite All His Issues, Richards Still Has Value on the Open Market
Even with all the recent trouble Micah Richards has had at Manchester City, the 25-year-old right-back still has suitors.
Newcastle United were linked to a move for Richards in October. As then reported by the Metro, "Magpies boss Alan Pardew remains a keen admirer of the 25-year-old and wants Richards to bolster his side’s back-line when the transfer window reopens in January."
Sagna "is yet to commit to a new deal at the Emirates Stadium and Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be keeping an eye on his situation."
Questions surrounding Sagna, combined with Carl Jenkinson's failure to develop at Arsenal this season, have Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger ready "to convert his long-standing interest in Richards into something more concrete."
Would Manchester City really allow Richards to join a Premier League rival? Kolo Toure would probably advise against it.
But if the Magpies or the Gunners are willing to pony up, City should probably listen.