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The Club Wrought With Defensive Woes: Manchester City

With fans saying Guardiola brought this on himself, here we explore the options the Catalan boss has for the defensive troubles City have brought unto themselves. 

Vinayak Manoj
Last updated: 24.09.2019
The Club Wrought With Defensive Woes: Manchester City | Sports Social Blog

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City’s problems at the heart of their defense got worse on a fateful Tuesday when centre back John Stones suffered a muscle injury while training at Ukraine for their game against Shaktar Donetsk before their upcoming Champions League fixture, putting him out of action for 4-5 weeks. City’s M.O. with respect to their transfer business indicates that they have shot themselves in the foot. After the loss of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones to injuries, the premier league champions have been shaken down to their core, rather uncharacteristically for the first time since Pep Guardiola has been at the helm of the ship. 

  

 

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City now find themselves in stitches, with the absence of a defensive spine within the squad. The team will now have to tap into their resources in order to help them get back on top. The Premier League champions have only one senior centre back who is fit enough to be called upon, Nicolas Otamendi, who is not at the top of his game as of now, considering his performance against the Canaries giving the ball away too easily and practically gifting them the third goal. The Argentine has faced severe flack from the likes of Jamie Redknapp and more, who compared the Argentine to a Sunday League player, after his shambolic performance against the newly promoted Norwich City.

 

 

Guardiola was heavily criticised by the media and by several fans, who were worried about the chances of injuries, for overlooking the possibility of the requirement of a centre back in order to win all the competitions they take part in. This is not the first time City has faced trouble due to lack of depth in their defensive arsenal. The loss of Vincent Kompany was another such instance after which City’s defense was left weak. Finding a player of the Belgian’s calibre was a time-sensitive task. Despite interest in Harry Maguire, the club took a risky call and chose to strengthen their full-back and midfield positions. 

 

There are limited options to what City can do to fix the problems that recurring injuries have caused in their defense, like;

 

1. Push Back Fernandinho 


 

The experienced Brazilian was often called upon by Guardiola in his times of need to help the team overcome high-pressure situations. Fernandinho has been a loyal and integral part of City’s defensive midfield. He has repeatedly proved the fact that he is an effective force in the midfield to put a damper on counter-attacks with his physicality and ability to commit tactical fouls. The Brazilian’s appetite for defending will make him a smart choice to fill the void in City’s defense left by Laporte and Stones. He has the ability to distribute the ball the way Guardiola likes his centre backs to do. And it was Fernandinho, who was called upon to represent City as their centre back in their Champions League game against Shaktar Donetsk.

 

2. Push Back Rodri

 


The Spaniard was brought in from Atletico Madrid as a long term replacement for Fernandinho. Considering the current status of the team, he could be seen playing alongside Otamendi. On paper, the Spaniard has all the necessary attributes to make a good centre back; aerial dominance, ability to make strong tackles and more, but at the young age of 23, he may lack the wisdom and experience that Guardiola would like a centre back to possess. At 6’3 some might say that Rodri lacks the pace to play a high line of defense but he is a good option since he has the physicality to make up for it.

 


3. Promote From Within


 

City has always had talent in their youth players, like Phil Foden etc. The role of a centre back brings with it the burden of performing in every single fixture. In bigger competitions, Guardiola might not trust his youth team players to be his last line of defense. But players like Eric Garcia could be called to step up to the task, as he is well known for his defensive prowess. 

 

City has a tough road ahead with equally tough decisions for the Blues’ boss to make. City is known to dominate games with possession in recent times, it is time for the club to make bold moves and who better to lead them to glory than Pep Guardiola.

 

 

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