After a pre-season in which Man City’s historically parsimonious defence has been uncharacteristically generous and further unsettled by injury to Matija Nastasic, Manuel Pellegrini is set to delve back into the market for reinforcements at centre-half. Perhaps someone should tell him there’s a more than capable replacement already doing his stretches down at Carrington.
In bringing in the best part of £90m’s worth of talent to overhaul a Citizens side that was a shadow of its 2012/13 title-winning self last season, it seems that the Chilean may have affected their defensive equilibrium.
12 goals have been conceded in their seven pre-season outings, but despite skipper Vincent Kompany insisting there was no cause for alarm after their 3-1 loss to Arsenal in Helsinki, the news that Pellegrini will have just two central defenders with which to start the season is set to force him back in to the market.
Napoli’s Paolo Cannavaro and Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos are reportedly the names on the shopping list, with the latter the preferred target.
However, the much-touted Greek is likely to cost City a king’s ransom – a problem even for a club of their riches as the era of financial fair play grows ever nearer – and besides, in Micah Richards they have a player that was at one time regarded as one of the most promising defenders in England.
Richards has played at centre-half for City before, starting the 2007/08 season alongside Richard Dunne and putting in a man-of-the-match display as Manchester United were seen off by a Geovanni goal at the Etihad.
Sadly that campaign ended early thanks to a February injury and by the time he had returned to the side he was playing at full-back once more, a position at which the club have used him for the most part of his career since.
Despite Roberto Mancini’s preference for using him on the wide right of defence, stellar showings have still been posted since when required in the middle of the back four, such as his man-of-the-match performance in the 1-0 against notorious City bogey-team Sunderland in October 2012.
After that match teammate Pablo Zabaleta suggested he couldn’t understand why Richards was so overlooked by his national side and it will be similarly hard to understand if his club look to purchase another defender rather than use him in the middle of their rearguard when necessary.
Manchester City are 11/5 joint-favourites with Chelsea for the Premier League title in 2013/14.