After his blinding debut against Chelsea, few would have envisioned new Manchester City man Eliaquim Mangala having a dictionary-definition nightmare against Hull last time out.
The relative ease with which the French stopper negated the threat of Diego Costa and co – whose 19 goals so far makes them the Premier League’s leading scorers by a margin of seven strikes – meant he should’ve had little trouble in keeping the Tigers at bay.
After just 32 minutes at the KC Stadium, however, he’d put through his own net in comical fashion and conceded the penalty converted by Abel Hernandez.
Had Edin Dzeko and Frank Lampard decided to pull their own versions of the Mangler’s hungover Sunday league player impersonation, the Citizens wouldn’t have been so fortunate as to plunder a 4-2 win from their Humberside sojourn.
A repeat performance from the former Porto man when Roma visit the Etihad in the Champions League next will see Manuel Pellegrini’s men punished with greater severity.
As it stands they’re 17/10 to keep a clean sheet against the Giallorossi, but omitting Mangala is not the best way to stymie the Italians.
Man City have a history of acquiring slow-starting centre-halves that have gone on prosper in sky blue shirts, but all were afforded the luxury of first-team access to hit their stride.
Martin Demichelis was chastised from pillar to post on account of his chronic lack of pace, but after a couple of months of acclimatising, the Argentine’s positioning and leadership qualities were key in the Citizens’ crossing the league-winning line in first place.
Matija Nastasic affirmed himself as one of Europe’s leading young centre-halves (for a short time at least) during the 2012/13 vintage after initial teething difficulties and even the great Vincent Kompany couldn’t get a game in the heart of City’s defence upon his arrival from Hamburg in 2008.
Game time, and lots of it, is what Mangala needs if he is to find the level of consistency Man City paid £32m for, so writing him out of the first-team picture in the short term would be a foolish move.