After an eventful week and a couple of title race defining games, Joe Butterfield takes a look back on the main talking points.
Mendy was in Hong K- I mean Barcelona for treatment
Last week Benjamin Mendy was discovered to be in Barcelona for further tests with Dr Cugat, a man I’m quite sure that Mendy must now be on first name terms with. Apparently playing for 20 minutes against Burton made his knee swell up, something which Guardiola described as “normal” only days before he was sent to Barcelona to meet a knee specialist, which would imply it’s probably not normal.
This raised the questions about Mendy’s ability to be counted on at left-back and not for the first time this season. After a second long-term knee injury was suffered at the start of the season, people begun to question his position in the squad and whether it was something he’d be able to keep hold of in the long term. Now it’s all come back around again and Jonty Fletcher has written an article well worth reading about this very subject.
Personally, I think Mendy is an incredibly difficult situation, but ultimately if we’d just done the right thing in the summer and signed a left-back, having spent the majority of last season playing either a central midfielder or a central attacking midfielder in his position, then this wouldn’t be the issue it currently is. The club is at fault here, not a man who’s got no control over his knees (although they are pretty dodgy knees).
He’s got the best social media team in all the Premier League writing his tweets for him and he’s apparently very good for morale within the dressing room, so on a personality level he’s a no-brainer to keep around the club for as long as we possibly can. Pep has praised his impact within the squad to no end and his antics on and off the pitch give fans a great deal of entertainment.
It’s on a physical level where his contribution is less secure. If we had a legitimate top quality left-back to put in his place without having to play Laporte out of position then we’d probably be quite relaxed right now. It’s bad luck, two bad injuries in a row. Gündogan did the same thing at Dortmund and we still bought him and put faith in him. However, when the alternatives are Fabien Delph, who hasn’t featured much since getting sent off against Leicester, and Zinchenko, who made his first Premier League appearance this year over the weekend, then it’s difficult to be quite as relaxed as is possible.
If we signed a left-back in the summer, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we will, then the pressure on Mendy to play every game when he’s fit will relax and hopefully, similar to Gündogan, his injury record will become a lot less painful to look at.
Ultimately, it’s up to Pep and I don’t think he’ll look to get rid any time soon. We’ve got a Fernandinho replacement to sort out in the summer and one left-back to sign as it is, it’s unlikely that we’ll be looking to add another problem position to the shopping list. That, plus he’s top bantz.
We are all in esteemed Kompany
Steven hasn’t filed the copyright yet – this headline is perfectly valid… I think?
Anyway, this week it emerged that captain fantastic, Vincent Kompany, is reportedly close to signing a new contract with a year’s extension. The Belgian is reportedly taking a hefty pay cut to stay at the club and it seems to be a deal which works out well for everybody.
Vinnie is a player who it’s fair to say everybody involved at the club wants to keep around – the club are particularly keen to keep him around to have some kind of behind the scenes role in future – and it’s good to see that his willingness to take a pay cut shows he clearly feels the same way. His family is Manc, his kids are Manc, he’s basically a Manc at this point. Like Pablo Zabaleta before him, his inevitable send off from his playing days will be a sad day for the club.
His role within the squad has changed significantly during Guardiola’s tenure. Under Pellegrini the defence looked as useful as a chocolate fireguard when Kompany wasn’t included, now under the Catalan his inclusion almost, and this may be sacrilege to say, makes the defence look worse. It doesn’t help that he’s only fit for about a dozen games a season nowadays as his wet-toilet-paper muscles have all but given up on him but his lack of time spent actually playing in the Guardiola system has made him the least capable when it comes to utilising it.
Of course, he’s still able to put in a 10/10 performance, his leadership qualities on the pitch are still borderline irreplaceable. Games like the recent 2-1 victory over Liverpool give a flashback to Kompany at his perfect peak, whilst recent last-ditch tackles after making a bad decision have exposed the cracks that are beginning to show in his game.
Still, assuming he’s kept on as a fourth choice centre-back and has taken a good pay cut to do so, this business suits absolutely all parties involved. His kids get to stay in Manchester, we keep hold of a club legend and he gets to spend the final years of his career at the club he loves.
We just need him to officially retire from international football. Come on Vinnie, you promised.
City dodged a Jorginho-shaped bullet
In case you missed it, which would be understandable because it didn’t matter too much, City battered Chelsea 6-0 over the weekend. It was a fairly low-key affair, Aguero only matched Alan Shearer’s Premier League hat-trick record, he didn’t even beat it. Chelsea only suffered their worst defeat in Premier League history. Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal.
What struck me most about the game, as Gündogan, Fernandinho and De Bruyne had free reign over the midfield, was how absolutely ineffective Sarri’s first signing, Jorginho, was throughout the match, especially given that City were on the brink of signing him before Chelsea swooped in with promises of living in London, more money and a guarantee that his dressing room would smell of Silk Cut.
As Sarri chewed his way through his second packet of cigs, Jorginho found himself completely overwhelmed by the dynamism and speed of City’s midfield and it’s not the first time he’s found himself so out of his depth in the Premier League. It’s an open secret that if you stick a man on the Italian and give him as little time on the ball as possible then you’ve basically got Chelsea’s midfield locked down.
When you look at the player Fernandinho is, it’s difficult to see why Pep ever thought that Jorginho would be an adequate back-up. Gündogan isn’t the most mobile defensive-midfielder in the world but he’s practically Kanté in comparison. Some of the footage of Jorginho’s attempts to track back over the weekend were pathetic and, whilst it’s somewhat understandable given the scoreline at the time of the attempts, it wasn’t even just for a lack of trying. He did legitimately and turn on a burst of pace to chase down a City attack and just be left for dust as the entire game strolls effortlessly past him.
This isn’t to say Jorginho isn’t a great player or that he never will be, and certainly not that he wouldn’t be much better if he’d come to City instead of Chelsea, but at the moment it’s looking like Txiki was correct in his valuation of the player.
Sure, Fernandinho has a lot of pressure on him this year and in two weeks’ time if he picks up an injury I might find myself having a rant and wondering why on earth Txiki decided not to fork out the extra £5 million it would have taken to get him, for now though I’m happy with the approach of waiting the extra year to get the right player, rather than splashing the cash early on a player who may not be the right fit.
With Sanchez, Fred and Jorginho all targets City have missed out on in the least year or so, I’m beginning to think of Txiki as Neo, flying around the transfer-Matrix and dodging bullets in the shapes of various footballers as football agents try to shoot him down.
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