Part 2 of James Lasley’s search into what Pep Guardiola will change when he gets to City:
In last week’s article we discussed which keepers would be staying and leaving upon the arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. This week, we will go through center backs. It is well known that Guardiola is very particular when it comes to his defending style. He has played three, four, and five at the back, in previous years. The former Barcelona man aims to quickly obtain possession, and therefore not allow the other team to have time on the ball. Guardiola is famous for his “6 second rule” stating that if his side loses possession, they must get the ball back within six seconds. This makes it difficult for the opposition to have any control over the game. Guardiola will face some difficulty, however, when he moves to the Etihad this summer. Unlike Bayern and Barcelona, Manchester City are not the strongest in defence. It is evident, especially after this season, that change is needed in the back line. So, what will said change look like?
Reasoning: Kompany is one of the core players in this Manchester City side. He has played for the club for over seven years, and has been captain for the majority of that time. The Belgian actually began his career at City as a holding midfielder. He transitioned to center back in 2010, which proved to be a wise move by the manager at that time. Kompany has enjoyed decent form all throughout his time at the Etihad. Barring the latter half of the 2014/2015 season, his quality has been consistent. Kompany’s only true flaw is the frequency of his injuries. It seems like ages since the Captain was last able to play an entire season. Both the player and fans have been frustrated this season especially, with Kompany struggling to overcome frequent calf injuries. Although, there has been a silver lining to all of these injuries. During his time injured this season, Kompany’s true impact on the team was revealed. City average a whole additional point per game when he is in the squad. The blues kept more than twice as many clean sheets in half the games played. On top of that, they conceded 19 fewer goals when Kompany was in the side verses when he wasn’t. The biggest statistic, however, is the win percentage. With Vincent Kompany, Manchester City win 78% of their games. Without him, they win a mere 43%. Just to put that into perspective, if City had won 78% of their games this season and lost the rest, they’d be sitting comfortably on top of the premier league table with 88 points. One can argue then, that Kompany’s injuries this season cost City the title. Whether or not that is true can never be certain. However, if a player has such an impact on a side, it would be ridiculous to believe that they would be shown the exit by a new manager.
Reasoning: When Demichelis was signed from Bayern Munich, he was intended to serve as a backup for the starting center backs. However, in recent games, he doesn’t seem capable of fulfilling that role. It has become more and more apparent that the 35 year old’s age has caught up to him. As City fans saw in the Manchester Derby, Demichelis is no longer able to keep up with the fast pace of the Premier League. Between missed tackles, poor passes, and bad judgement, he is a major weakness in such a strong Manchester City side. In short, Demichelis is nothing more than a liability at this point in time. He has had a wonderful career for both club and country, but his time at the highest level has come to an end.
Reasoning: This season was Otamendi’s first at the Etihad. While it wasn’t superb, it wasn’t poor either. The Argentine’s performances were all over the map. He would pocket world class strikers in the Champion’s League during the week, and then fall asleep and give up a goal off of a throw-in during the weekend. This shows us that Otamendi is capable of being a great defender as he has the abilities. What he needs is a coach that will sculpt him into a great defender. I believe Pep Guardiola will do just that. With Vincent Kompany facing constant injuries, City need someone else to fill his role. Critics of Otamendi claim he is far too reckless in his challenges. While it is true that man never backs down from a good old fashioned tackle, as the season has progressed he has shown better discretion. Rather than diving in every time, he has gradually learned to stay in front of his man and defend as a team. As his time in Manchester continues, and he is able to better adapt to the demands of the Premier League, Nicolas Otamendi will find his footing and be a great asset to Guardiola for years to come.
Reasoning: While I believe Mangala will remain at the Etihad for at least another season, his role likely will not be the same as it was this season. It is becoming ever more likely that Guardiola signs Laporte, Stones, or both. With the addition of another center back, Mangalas first team action won’t be as frequent. Regardless, he will be given time to prove himself. Like Otamendi, Mangala shows signs of potential. He played exceptionally in Europe this season in addition to keeping clean sheets in the first five games of the season. His performances seem to be greatly influenced by his teammates. When surround with the right players, he plays up to their level and looks more than capable of holding his own. Mangala’s biggest attribute is his physicality. He has the speed to keep up with the quickest of forwards, and the strength to hold off any player. Hopefully under the new manager, Mangala will be able to adapt his style of play and be a solid defender for the blues.
Disagree with any of my predictions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!