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Why Javi Garcia Can Make Positive Impact on Man City's Premier League Hopes

HULL, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Javi Garcia and Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City applaud the travelling fans following their team's 2-0 victory during the Barclays Premier league match between Hull City and Manchester City at KC Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Whereas for some players adjusting to the Premier League is effortless, for others it can take time.

Whether it be the pace, physicality or tactics of the English game that make the transition difficult, there are those who need months to produce their best football, and those who never truly adapt at all.

For Manchester City’s Javi Garcia, asserting himself has taken a while, but after a difficult first season which saw him singled out by his own supporters as a target for abuse, he is finally showing why the club signed him in the summer of 2012.

A string of effective and efficient midfield showings have seen his status rise from a player ridiculed for being slow and lumbering to one who makes City stronger and more difficult to beat. It’s been a remarkable turnaround.

It all started back in December when City travelled to the Allianz Arena to play their final Champions League group match against Bayern Munich. With City fans already fearing a hiding given the quality of opposition—the side who had beaten them 3-1 on their own pitch a few weeks earlier—the task appeared unassailable when Bayern went 2-0 up after 12 minutes.

HULL, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Javi Garcia of Manchester City is tackled by Tom Huddlestone of Hull City during the Barclays Premier league match between Hull City and Manchester City at KC Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Paul Thomas/Ge
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

City, who had fielded a second-string side in order to rest players for key league games, looked set to be on the end of another hiding, yet they somehow managed to turn the game around and win 3-2 against a side on a 10-match winning run in the Champions League.

David Silva was outstanding in his role just off the frontman, and Pablo Zabaleta didn’t allow Franck Ribery a kick, but key to it all was Garcia, who sat just in front of the back four, snuffing out danger and generally keeping City ticking with his neat passing.

After the match, bars and pubs in Munich were awash with City fans willing to praise Garcia, and social media was full of similar sentiments. For the first time since his arrival, he was being roundly praised by his own supporters.

It was a springboard for better displays that saw his importance to the side grow, evidenced in the league defeat to Chelsea at home, a game Garcia was unavailable for. With Fernandinho injured, City lost the midfield battle and the match, and it was clear that Garcia was badly missed.

For the first time, City fans bemoaned his absence, sure that had he played, the result would have been different. What a change from the moans and groans that previously greeted his name being read out before matches.

He's gone from strength to strength since, culminating in another superb display at the weekend in City's huge away win at Hull. His confidence is growing and his influence increasing.

Indeed, Garcia openly admits he feels more comfortable at City now and is aware his stock with the fans is rising. In an interview with Jeremy Cross in the Star, he said:

When you play regularly, you can show your quality, and the most important thing for me is to win three points and keep working for the Premier League title.

I try to hear nothing from the fans! Maybe six months ago, 10 months ago, people maybe didn't say anything good to me and now I try to do my job.

Now maybe the fans are happier with me, but I just try to do my job, and I try to do the same things I did six months ago.

I feel better now in the country, in the team and in the club.

For City, his improved form could be crucial in what looks set to be a run-in full of difficulty. A fixture pile-up and set of tough away games means they will need to call on every member of the squad at some stage.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  Javi Garcia of Manchester City is pursued by Nemanja Matic of Chelsea during the FA Cup Fifth Round match sponsored by Budweiser between Manchester City and Chelsea at Etihad Stadium on February 15, 2014 in Manchester,
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Garcia allows Pellegrini to rest Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, both of whom have been relied on too heavily this season. He also gives him the option of playing an extra man in midfield in tough away games or to come on during matches protect a lead.

He could be crucial in the coming weeks. It may have taken him some time, but Javi Garcia is now an important member of this City squad.

 

Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.

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