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Manchester City

The current unsustainability of Manchester City

The Boot Room

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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.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Germany

Has Leroy Sané been wrongfully dropped from Germany’s World Cup squad?

The 22-year-old will not be featuring in Russia.

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Leroy Sane
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City winger Leroy Sané has been left out of Germany’s 2018 World Cup squad.

It was today announced that the 22-year-old – who made Joachim Löw’s original 27-man provisional team – did not make the official 23-man tournament squad. This arguably comes as the biggest shock of the squad announcements so far.

Sané made 40 appearances this season in all competitions for City, scoring 14 goals and gaining 19 assists along the way in what was undoubtedly the best season of his career.

His performances and statistics were enough to gain him the Premier League’s ‘Young Player of the Year Award’ for the 2017/18 season, further adding to the surprise of his absence from Löw’s World Cup squad.

Germany’s record in recent tournaments is as unquestionable as the strength and depth they have within their squad. To make the final cut of Löw’s World Cup team is a feat within itself and Sané deserved that accolade this summer.

(Photo by Miguel Medina/Getty Images)

Making the squad at the expense of Sané; Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Julian Draxler (PSG), Mario Gomez (Stuttgart) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig).

Sané has similar attributes to these five players which is why it is difficult to comprehend any argument for the City wingers absence.

With the exception of Leipzig’s Werner, all of the above scored fewer goals last season than Sané and, on top of that, every player also had far fewer assists than the City winger, with the next closest to him being Arsenal’s Özil with 12 (seven behind).

In fact, if you add Rudy, Draxler and Gomez’s assists together (13), you’d still have six fewer than Sane’s. Combine all of the major statistics relevant to an attacking midfielder/forward’s role, Sané is ahead of every name on this list.

It obviously isn’t all about the statistics, however, and when you consider the calibre of attacking teammates Sané had to work with this season, it is understandable why his personal statistics are so high.

However, a World Cup squad should be the 23 best men at that time to represent their country.

When you consider the jaw-dropping football Manchester City played in this record breaking Premier League season – and Sané’s significant impact in that – surely it is inconceivable to think that he is not within the best 23 players of his nation.

It is difficult to second guess an international manager with the record of Joachim Löw. However, compile all of the statistical evidence with the eye test and it is difficult to understand how Leroy Sané will not be representing Germany in Russia this month.

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Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s poor China record should give West Ham cause for concern

The Chilean international looks set to join the Hammers.

Max Cohen

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Pellegrini
Photo: Getty Images

As Manuel Pellegrini inches closer to being named West Ham United’s new manager, many have applauded the potential appointment of a Premier League-winning boss.

With spells at some of the world’s most successful clubs, the Chilean is certainly an impressive acquisition for the Hammers.

Yet Pellegrini’s most recent coaching assignment has been nothing short of mediocre, a sign that should slightly worry West Ham supporters.

Pellegrini officially left Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune on Saturday, after just under two years at the club.

The Chilean was appointed in August 2016 and registered an unspectacular record at the club.

Pellegrini’s first season ended with Hebei in fourth position, yet the club missed out on AFC Champions League qualification by one place.

This year, the team has taken a dramatic step back in the opening months of the season.

(Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Under Pellegrini’s management, Hebei China Fortune currently sit eighth out of the 16-team Chinese Super League.

The side has only picked up just 15 points from 11 matches to date, a disappointing return considering Pellegrini has talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hernanes, and Gervinho at his disposal.

As the Chinese Super League is a far less important and internationally relevant league than La Liga or the Premier League, Pellegrini can perhaps be forgiven for not taking his job as seriously as his past assignments at Malaga, Real Madrid, and Manchester City.

Yet, his Chinese struggles are worrying nonetheless, as ideally West Ham supporters would like to be acquiring the services of a manager who enjoyed success at his most recent club.

In all, the ex-Manchester City manager still has a Premier League title to his name, a fact that makes his recent tough spell in Asia less concerning.

Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini’s underwhelming time at Hebei China Fortune reveals that the manager still possesses flaws and should not be expected to work immediate wonders at West Ham.

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Manchester City

Record-breaking Manchester City show Pep Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy

The Spaniard won his first Premier League title in swashbuckling style.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

When Pep Guardiola was appointed as manager of Manchester City in the summer of 2016 it is fair to say that his arrival was met with a mixed reaction throughout British football.

First, there was obvious excitement throughout the blue half of Manchester. Guardiola was widely regarded one of the best managers of his generation after trophy-laden spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

He was renowned for the exciting, possession-based style of play that he implemented and the team that he built at the Nou Camp at the start of the twenty-first century produced some of the best football of the modern era.

Then there were the sceptics – and there were plenty of them. The comments were predictable and filled with clichés, unevidenced assumptions and meaningless jargon.

It was suggested that Guardiola had only won trophies with clubs where the race for the title was a two-horse race at best and that he had always inherited world-class players.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the Spaniard’s total-football philosophy would never work in the hustle and bustle of English football.

His technical style of play would come unstuck in the so-called ‘best league in the world’ and would not be effective on a cold, wet Tuesday night at places like Stoke City in front of a tribal, raucous home support.

In his debut season with Manchester City some of the negative predictions appeared to be coming true.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Despite winning all of their opening 10 games of the season under Guardiola, City experienced a poor run of form during the Christmas period that left them trailing their title rivals.

The team were unpredictable and inconsistent during the second half of the campaign and heavy defeats against Everton (4-0) and Leicester City (4-2) left many onlookers wondering if Guardiola had finally been sussed.

The Spaniard never shied away from the critics and he staunchly defended his philosophy despite some poor results and vowed that he would not change his style of play.

City finished the season without a trophy and the sceptics went into the summer proclaiming how they had correctly predicted Guardiola’s failure.

What a difference a year can make.

City’s last-gasp victory against Southampton on the final day of the season rounded off what has been a record-breaking campaign in which Guardiola’s team have swept aside all before them in the Premier League.

The list of achievements is remarkable.

City this season have set new records for most consecutive wins (18), most goals scored (105), most wins (32), most away points won (16), most points (100), the biggest goal difference (+79) and the biggest points gap (19).

Suddenly the sceptics are beginning to look incredibly foolish.

In truth, it is hard to remember a campaign in the modern era where one team has been dominant from start to finish in the way that City have been. Furthermore, not only have the won, but they have won with style.

Guardiola’s playing philosophy has clicked over the last twelve months, undoubtedly aided by effective recruitment during the summer, and the team have played with flair, energy, creativity, pace and innovation.

Opponents, barring perhaps Liverpool, have simply not found any way to combat City’s free-flowing football.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Critics will still point to an early exit in the FA Cup against Wigan Athletic, where City played most of the game with ten men, and defeat in the Champions League to Liverpool, where a poor first half at Anfield effectively ended the tie before it had begun, but the success of Guardiola’s style of play is undoubted.

No one is suggesting that the Spaniard needs to alter his philosophy to meet the demands of the English game anymore.

Instead, it is English football that will need to change in order to meet the challenge of Guardiola’s football revolution.

The concern for other Premier League clubs is that City are threatening to establish themselves as the new dominant force in the domestic game. There is nothing to indicate that Guardiola or the team that he has assembled will be loosening their grip on the Premier League trophy any time soon.

The future is bright. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, John Stones, Leroy Sane, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson are all under the age of 26. This is a group of players that is still improving and will be hitting the peak years of their career over the next half-a-decade.

Manchester City’s success this season is just the start of what could turn into a period of unrivaled dominance, further underlining that Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy.

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