A lot has been made of average ages in recent weeks since Tottenham played the youngest team of the Premier League season so far in their 2-1 victory against North London rivals Arsenal. The average of their starting eleven that day was 24 years and 27 days with six of the line up being under that age including 21 year old Harry Kane and 22 year old Christian Eriksen, the future looks bright for Tottenham as it does Liverpool who four days later played Tottenham and fielded a starting eleven with the average of 24 years old as well. The game was played at a quick pace and was an enthralling contest, for the fans of both sides as well as the neutral. The future is promising big things for these two clubs with their young managers at the helm but lets look a little bit higher up the table at Manchester City.
61 year old Manuel Pellegrini is at the helm of the Abu Dubai backed blue half of Manchester side and his squad has the highest average age in the league at 28.8 years old which is the second highest in Europe’s top five leagues only behind Serie A’s Atalanta. So it’s clear that City need to freshen up, bring in some youth, but have Pellegrini’s transfers so far at City inspired trust in him to be the man to be able to do that, to keep City near the top and push them on to being one of the best in Europe which they have so far failed to do.
City have made 11 noteable signings since the arrival of Pellegrini and they have certainly been a varied degree of success’;
Fernandinho was fairly unknown when he signed from Shaktar Donetsk for a whopping £30million but has been a complete and utter success, sitting and enforcing the City midfield allowing Yaya Toure more freedom last season which saw him score 20 league goals. His athleticism, speed and technique in the way that he strikes the ball have him a very successful signing but at 29 he surely doesn’t have many more years at the top of his game.
Jesus Navas at £14.9million seemed quite a bargain and would inject some much needed width and pace into the side but there were questions over his goal scoring ability and that has continued into his City career where he has only scored 4 goals. Navas has often become a scapegoat for poor results because of the amount of crosses he puts in which never find a teammate. However, surely he shouldn’t be under instruction to put so many crosses in with just Aguero to find in the area, so he may become more important and effective when Bony is introduced into the team.
Stevan Jovetic came from Fiorentina with a fantastic reputation and big price tag of £22million however, he has only scored 8 goals since his arrival, he has even been dropped from the teams Champions League squad. Constant injuries have blighted his career in England and he is obviously upset by his omission from the Champions League squad and Mancini got sacked for a broken squad and Pellegrini could well be on the way to the same fate if City don’t start playing with more passion.
Alvaro Negredo has already left the club in bizarre circumstances, on loan at Valencia with an assumed agreed fee at the end of the season. ‘The Beast’ had a fantastic first six months at City before a shoulder injury halted his progress and he never returned to that form. He was perhaps better than Dzeko and Jovetic but he is back in Spain after his £16million move to Manchester.
During Martin Demichelis’ first few months he was somewhat of a joke to opposition fans due to his many mistakes including unnecessarily taking out Lionel Messi in the Champions League where he was sent off and it finished the tie. Since his haircut his form has turned up and has arguably been City’s most reliable defender, especially with a downturn in the form of captain Vincent Kompany. Yet age and pace is not on his side as he is 34 and surely can’t look much beyond this season at a top European side.
Fernando joined during the summer from Porto for £12million, the 27 year old has struggled to find a place in the side that makes him effective and creates a balanced side. His distribution is poor and his tackling reckless it could be a case of settling into the league but once again he doesn’t have many years ahead of him.
Bacary Sagna, another player to leave Arsenal for another Premiership side to win titles has hardly played any games since he joined the Manchester side and if that is the case then why not sign someone for the future who can be a long term replacement for Zabaleta, so overall, an expensive understudy.
Another expensive older back up was brought in for £6million this summer in Willy Caballero who has played only seven times in which City have lost three. The 33 year old again is no long term replacement and Joe Hart is unlikely to learn anything from him, so more high wages on someone unlikely to last more than two seasons at the Etihad.
Bruno Zuculini is the odd one out, 21 years old, almost unheard of from Racing Club and seemed to have a bright future ahead of him when he played in the Community Shield against Arsenal but he was then sent off to Valencia on loan where he has only played one game. So it seems they have written off the chances of this young player while giving little care to where he goes out to play first team football.
Eliaquim Mangala, so far has been an incredibly expensive failure. He came from Porto when he was one of the most sought after center halves in Europe. £32million looked well spent on his debut against Chelsea where he put in a fantastic display in the 1-1 draw. Since then, he has made many mistakes and looked completely off the pace and has taken the place of Demichelis as Kompany’s joke partner. However, at 24, all the talent that was seen at Porto can’t have disappeared so there is still time for him, unlike most of the other signings.
The latest one is Wilfried Bony, who looks like he is to be a first team regular and actually does have Premiership experience. His introduction could allow Pellegrini to revert to his favored two up front allowing, Fernandinho, Toure, Nasri and Silva to create a balanced and powerful midfield.
Pellegrini needs to fix any potential rifts in the team and change his transfer strategy. Mangala and Bony in principle offer some hope of youth and Premiership experience, he needs to keep this going and create a more sustainable team around the core of Toure, Silva and Aguero otherwise those players and the club may miss out on their chances of becoming a European super power and even challenging for a Champions League title.