How Manchester City are embracing the modern day fullback
The role of a modern day fullback is always subject for debate, are they solely a member of the defence or are they part of the wider attacking spectrum. The answer from most title winning teams would be the latter, which is why it begs the question of why did Manchester City not utilise this option to the maximum last season in the way that Chelsea did with Branislav Ivanovic and Willian. The role of a winger is much more important when there is another player in the same area to provide attacking outlet, as it provides more than one option of putting the ball into the box. It makes that whole side of the pitch more unpredictable and makes the game more exciting.
Last season David Silva was deployed on the left side of midfield more often than not, but as his overall gameplay is centred on creating chances and feeding the striker this means he tends to drift into the middle a lot. This would often leave gaping holes on the left side of the pitch from which the other team could break out from. It also meant that there wasn’t much attacking play taking place down that side. Whether it is Gael Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov playing down that side, it would mean you could not bring the attacking aspect of their game into the match.
With this new found partnership of Kolarov and Sterling it gives Man City a different dimension to attack from. As noted, Silva is not suited to playing out wide, Sterling on the other hand is. Playing off the touchline getting chalk on his boots is what he does best, skipping past players and putting it on a plate for others to score from, but this season he does not have to do it himself.
Unlike at Liverpool where the formation used by Brendan Rodgers, which did not cater for Sterling’s style of play, at Man City he has a formation which can be based all around width. Also he now has a partner in crime, as mentioned Kolarov enjoys getting forward and this is only an added bonus for Sterling. Someone who he can link up with and cause the opposite teams defence chaos without having to do it all himself.
It is said that stats do not lie, this is clearly evident with Kolarov and Sterling as the latter already has five goals and one assist to his name so early into his Man City career. Including a hatrick during the 5-1 rout of Bournemouth in October. Obviously this is not all down to the chemistry between the pair but it is certainly a contributing factor as shown in the match against Everton earlier in the season when Sterling provided a perfectly weighted pass for Kolarov to descend on Tim Howard’s goal and rifle it home.
As mentioned before the system used at Liverpool did not suit Sterling’s style of play and was a catalyst in his move to Man City, during his time at Liverpool he was constantly moved into different roles in the team. When he did play on the wing he was never provided with a long term partner whom he could build a successful partnership with, Jon Flanagan and Alberto Moreno just a few in the list of left backs present in the Liverpool team in recent times. At Man City Sterling now has a suitable partner who shares his style of play and has helped further enhance him as a player.
There is also a hidden benefit of this partnership which is although it is focused around attacking it also helps defend. This is because once you have a double up in one area of the pitch; the other side also have to have two players back defending to make sure that they are not outnumbered. This means that you can keep one teams attack penned in their own area.
As mentioned before all title winning teams normally have a partnership like the one being constructed by Kolarov and Sterling. Last year Chelsea walked their way to a domestic double, a large part of this success to the partnership of Willian and Branislav Ivanovic. Although they have been largely underwhelming this season, especially Ivanovic, it shouldn’t be forgot how important there combination was, especially given how little competition there was for places last season. Not to dissimilar to the current problem faced by Man City with Samir Nasri being ruled out for five months.
Now that Man City have the capability to replicate Willian and Ivanovic’s success there is no reason as to why they cannot replicate Chelsea’s success as whole from last season. Being top of the Premier league, in the round of 16 of the Champions league, in the last 8 of the league cup and the FA cup which is yet to kick off. It seems as though they are already on their way to a successful that Kolarov and Sterling’s partnership will play a major part in any success.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Guts Gaming.
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