Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is getting a lot of heat in the English newspapers after Monday’s dismal 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. The champions looked old and uninspired, and with nothing to play for this season, City’s owners have to be worried that the team’s lack of form will see them slide all the way out of a top four finish.
While Pellegrini will undoubtedly be fired at the end of the season, is he to blame for City’s disappointing season or should the finger be pointed at those above him, in particular chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain?
Pellegrini is dealing with the hand that he is given, and it is not a good one. City have an aging squad and they have bought badly in the recent transfer windows.
The following City players are aged 29 or over: Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Frank Lampard,Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy, Aleksandr Kolarov, James Milner, Edin Dzeko and David Silva.
Add in captain Vincent Kompany, who is 28, and City has the oldest squad in the Premier League with an average age of 29.7. By comparison, the average age of the Manchester United and Liverpool squads is 26.1, while Chelsea’s is 26.4 and Arsenal 26.5.
If City are to challenge for the title again next season season they need to get a lot younger this summer.
City have a net spend of £500million on transfer fees since 2008, but the best signings – Hart, Aguero, Kompany, Toure, Silva – were signed before the Soriano and Begiristain arrives at Eastlands,
Consider that despite being under FPP restrictions, in the last two transfer windows City have spend a combined £73 million on Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando and Wilfried Bony, none of whom can even get in the first XI.
Begiristain has signed Eliaquim Mangala, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic, Jesus Navas, Willy Caballero, Fernando, Martin Demichelis, Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard. Only Demichelis – who cost £4.2million from Atletico Madrid just a few months after he had been available from Malaga on a free – and on-loan Lampard have been successes.
City’s English Problem
If James Milner leaves the club in the summer on a Bosman, City won’t have a single English outfield player worthy of a starting position.
That is not a good position to be in given the quotas of homegrown players needed in the Champions League and Premier League.
Arsene Wenger realized a couple of seasons ago that he needed to add a British spine to his side, and that is what City need to do. Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling will be a step in the right direction, but City need more than one British player. They need to sign three or four. Considering the premium on English players, City must be hoping the FPP punishment is lifted for the next window
Even if the FPP restrictions are lifted, will City’s Abu Dhabi owners trust Soriano and Begiristain with this summer’s transfer budget? I am not convinced that they will.
The question then is who replaces Pellegrini, Soriano and Begiristain?
City have been linked with Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola. I cannot see Guardiola leaving Bayern this summer, but Ancelotti is a real possibility.
As for replacing Soriano and Begiristain, Patrick Viera is in charge of City’s reserve side, and I would not be surprised to see him move into a director of football role in the summer.