Ten months, sixty-one games, three trophies – not bad. It’s been a season of unimaginable highs and inexplicable lows for Manchester City. On the pitch, we’ve fought hard against a Liverpool side that just wouldn’t let it slip; off it we’ve fought hard against the coercion of UEFA and the Redmen T- no, sorry, the British Media. No matter how many times the opposing goalkeeper threw the ball in their own net, no matter how many times it was made obvious that Richard Scudamore’s start-of-season comments held more weight than we initially thought, no matter how many times Fabian Delph played for us, we laughed in the face of adversity week after week. Disrespecting teams by scoring nine, playing Phil Foden even though he agreed to sit on the bench for six years, and most importantly of all – securing an admittedly bittersweet treble.
Let’s dissect how it was done, player by player, person by person. As the sole arbiter of these ratings, I’ll start by saying that they’re concluded by considering both the players footballing antics and their off-field escapades. So, let’s get into it.
Ederson – 9
Many City fans may have fallen in love with Ederson when he took a boot to the face and played the following game. Others might have when he was celebrating last season’s title win at eight in the morning, Corona in hand. A bit of a nutter, sure, but this season those perceptions transcended towards the realms of reptilian.
Fourteen years ago, Stuart Pearce infamously stuck David James – a goalkeeper – up front. What would seem a stupid decision was welcomed with open arms by blues as a sort of acknowledgement of how outrageously egregious we were. This year Pep Guardiola has been infamously sticking Ederson Moraes – an outfielder – in goal, what would seem a stupid decision has been welcomed with open arms by blues as a sort of acknowledgement of how outrageously superior we are to everyone else.
The ball could be at his feet in the six-yard box with a striker baring down on him, and he remains, as always, in a permanent state of zen. To have a keeper who’s that confident in himself gives the rest of the back four so much more assurance, which in return gives the midfield that same feeling. He really does epitomise Pep’s philosophy, the keeper is the first footballer and from that stems an adept eleven.
My personal highlight of his season was his eighty-yard pinpoint punt to Raheem Sterling away at Schalke, putting him through on goal – the right-winger finished accordingly. Speaking of right-wingers, Ederson ticked his ‘annual anecdote’ box when he had his picture taken with Tommy Robinson, unbeknown to him at the time, this right-winger was worse than Jesus Navas, and consequently didn’t deserve a picture. But the picture happened, a far-right page claimed Ederson was in support of Yaxley-Lennon, to which Ederson then replied basically saying “No I’m not”, leaving him with egg on his face, and then the next day; milkshake. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Ederson hired that guy to lob milk at Tommy. It’d be foolish for a footballer to do something like that in the public eye, but when you’re in a tunnel without any cameras… well, we know what he did to Jose.
A phenomenal season for a phenomenal player, a definite fan favourite for years to come.
Aro Muric – 6
I have less to say about this keeper. He hasn’t thrown milk at people or played Russian roulette with his back four, he’s just simply contributed to another wholesome Carabao Cup campaign.
His standout performance came in a penalty shootout win away at Leicester in the quarter finals – stopping three penalties. It’s more than he could’ve asked for when being loaned out to NAC Breda back in the summer, but he’s here now, and I think I speak for most City fans when I say, Aro, thanks for not being another Claudio Bravo.
Claudio Bravo – 2
Genuinely forgot he played for us mid-way through this season. It’s not his fault due to a severe injury and I wish him all the best as he’s almost certainly leaving us. But if you’re sat there thinking a two is a bit harsh then all I can say is that I still hold a grudge for his entire 16/17 season. He reached a level so low that I could never really take to him afterwards.
Escaped getting a one purely by being the second worst Chilean in the league behind Alexis Sanchez.
Kyle Walker – 6
I don’t know where to stand with Kyle Walker, and ironically, he doesn’t know where to stand on the pitch… or where to run, or when to cross, or who to track, or what is going on. Yet at the same time, I find myself appreciating what he brings to the table for us. Despite the poor performances at times, despite the countless moments of sheer density that make him look like a dog who doesn’t realise you’ve thrown the toy so he sits there waiting for it… it’s behind you Kyle, I’ve thrown the toy… turn around Kyle, the ball… you’ve left him unmarked Kyle! Again! And now he’s scored Kyle! It’s Jeff Schlupp for christ sakes!… Despite all that. He is a physical specimen and a half. Not many players in the league can cover the amount of turf he can in such a short space of time, so for what he sometimes lacks in footballing IQ, he makes up for in recovery runs or just being physically stronger than his opponent.
Last season he was superb, this season he’s fallen off a bit, but he’s far from incompetent. Maybe it’s down to his five-day holiday after the World Cup before he was back with City. Although if that is the case, you cannot question his mentality. A monstrous strike at home won us the game against Newcastle which also gets him some added appraisal.
His twitter game reflects his footballing game too. Usage of memes that died long before Manchester United did became a bit exasperating. Alas, much like his recovery runs, he clawed back some salvation with that prophetic tweet gloating about Liverpool bottling a potential seven-point lead – it was risky at the time, but now we’ve pipped them to the title, it’s aged like a fine wine.
Fast and slow in different departments, but ultimately serves a very important purpose.
Danilo – 7
Need a right back? Danilo. Need a left back? Danilo. Need a holding midfielder? Danilo. If there’s one player in the squad that doesn’t appreciate their value to the team enough, I feel it’s probably him.
He may shoot for the craic, but who doesn’t like a bit of that? In every other department he’s watertight. And that’s something you don’t realise you’ve got until it’s gone. So, Danilo, don’t leave mate.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 8
The true success story of the season, Zin was on the verge of leaving in the summer to Wolves, but instead of settling for seventh, he stayed, and in the end, he played. Not because he had to, because he wanted to. It’s a lesson that goes beyond the realms of football – hard work and commitment towards something you truly want, pays off. He’s suffered blows. Being a natural attacking midfielder, it was probably a setback having to play left back. But in the same manner, he celebrated his goal against Burton like “Oh, that’s just happened” and he got on with it. His story also bares another important life lesson – moving to Birmingham is never a good idea.
A tidy footballer and a seemingly dead good guy – I’d expect a contract extension sooner rather than later.
Benjamin Mendy – 7
Half the time I don’t know where I stand with Mendy, and ironically, half the time he can’t stand. When he can stand, he’s a hell of a footballer, but this perpetual problem with his legs has effectively made him a squatter in Dr Cugat’s house. He runs the risk of becoming the biggest what could’ve been in Manchester City history. He will get a third chance next year – the injuries of course aren’t his fault – but he really could be coming across as a bit more professional. I’m not saying don’t go to Club Liv or any of those quarantine zones, but just act as if football is your number one priority.
In most instances I wouldn’t be too bothered, but it’s because I know, and Pep knows what a potential asset City have in him. Early in the season the amount of assists he was racking up from overlapping and picking out the likes of Aguero and Bernardo was absurd.
When he has played this season, he’s always looked threatening. Get him fit at all costs and a whole host of systematic opportunities will open up.
Fabian Delph – 1
Right, so let me just start by saying, much like Zinchenko this season – I will always have respect for Delph for making this best out of a situation where the odds didn’t favour him last season. BUT, this season he’s been nothing short of shambolic. His record when he’s played, nearly all the games we dropped points in featured Delph. And if we’re discounting the individual errors that lead to penalties or conceded goals then even still, he did nothing to stand out.
It leads me to believe that last season was a charade. Fabian may well have been simply riding the wave of ferocious domestic form that saw us pressed up so relentlessly in the oppositions final third that he had little to do, and therefore, simply knowing the basics was adequate for his position.
A bad season doesn’t warrant a one though. Around November time, it was brought to my attention that according to a couple of pages he follows on Instagram, Delph is, indeed, an anti-vac. Poor Pep, City just can’t seem to get it right at left back. We replaced Aleksandar Kolarov with Aleksandar Cholera, and for that reason – it’s a one.
On a serious note though, a good servant who just had a bad season – it’s probably time for a change.
Vincent Kompany – 10
Colossal. Forget the season that’s just been. This man has been the nucleus of a team from its very inception in 2008, to now. A team that was once happy to win back-to-back games, to a team that has just won fourteen on the bounce to clinch the Premier League title and then supplement that with two more trophies. He has embodied the clubs core values since coming here, immersed himself in Mancunian culture, never had any bad blood with anyone, always been there for his teammates, took responsibility when others wouldn’t – no matter who we get to replace him, that father-like presence he has around the club is a void that won’t be possible to fill.
Injury after injury, he bounced back, somehow maintaining the same level of sharpness as if he was never absent. He possessed a level of determination, desire and focus that very few have.
Stepping up to the plate, that United header, his Wembley goal, the title-winner against Leicester City this season. He was no ordinary defender, a leader of men, so proficient in his artform that he excelled in other departments on top of it.
To come in and do what he did in the title run in this year was nothing short of awe inspiring. Not just the positional awareness to compensate for his loss of pace, but his mental approach to games. Even after winning the league last week, all he wanted to focus on then was the FA Cup final. It’s that winning mentality combined with his maturity that must’ve made him seem near omniscient to the players in the dressing room. Absolute legend.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6
Another one who is probably leaving with Vinnie, Nico has done bloody well for us all things considered. The best centre back in the centurion’s side, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves.
This season though things just haven’t quite worked out, with the rapid emergence of Aymeric Laporte becoming our best centre half, game time has been few and far between for him. Considering him and Mangala were the literal chuckle brothers under Manuel Pellegrini, their respective trajectories have been somewhat inversed under Pep Guardiola – with Nico’s arising.
An unorthodox centre half with an unorthodox haircut – it’s been another solid season and I’m sure his fate lies in his own hands.
Aymeric Laporte – 9
The sole reason we’re all not saying, “Why didn’t we sign Van Dijk?”. His TOTY partner Laporte has nearly identical qualities. In all our sixty-one games this season, you could count the amount of times Laporte has dropped under an 8/10 on one hand. His passing range is visionary, even from 50 yards back he’s always on the lookout for potential defence splitting balls – Brighton away last week, that ball fizzed into Silva, Wolves at home, a ball down the line that took out about three defenders and resulted in a Jesus goal. These are just a couple of examples but they’re prime ones of why this squad’s firepower is so profuse.
Then there’s his actual defending ability. Liverpool away probably the most notable this campaign; a man of the match performance in which him and Stones collaborated to silence the theoretical best attacking trio in Europe. Every frenetically zipped ball into the feet of the attackers, neutralised immediately. Every chasing run over the top, rivalled sufficiently. He really does have it all, and we have him for so much longer.
Having said all this, according to Didier Deschamps – a man who knows a lot more about football than me – Adil Rami is more worthy of a spot than Aymeric. The only thing stopping me from dishing out the ten were his two uncharacteristically hap hazardous performances against Spurs in the Champions League, other than that – flawless.
John Stones – 8
As much as Kompany’s goal against Leicester has been lauded as the moment of the season recently – which it was in terms of poignancy. For me, in terms of importance, it was that 0.11cm goal-line clearance in the biggest game of the season that tipped it our way. Had that ball squirmed over the line we’d almost certainly be living in a dystopian United Kingdom right now; the Beatles topping the charts, James Milner knighted, Jamie Carragher suspended by Sky for exposing himself on the M60. John Stones stopped all that, and for that we’re all beholden to him.
But that moment of valour wasn’t the only the showpiece from a very decent season. Up until around February, Laporte and Stones had amalgamated to form an extremely stubborn central pairing. It was probably the best we’ve seen John in a City shirt. Unfortunately for him though, after that winter period, when approaching the crunch part of the season, his involvement was no longer continual.
This happened to him last season, whether it’s because Pep thought his form wasn’t up to standard or whether he just trusts Kompany more in the big games is unknown. But with Vinny gone now, next season might finally be the one where he’s an ever-present figure in the line-up.
Other than when Pep shoehorned him into holding midfield against Palace, he’s looked comfortable. Bonus points for being able to dance better than Mo Salah as well.
Eliaquim Mangala – 1
Zero appearances this season for the City defender (and I use that word advisedly).
You can follow the author here: @_adammonk
You can follow us for everything Manchester City: @City_Xtra
You can find Part Two of our player ratings HERE!
You can find Part Three of our player ratings HERE! COMING SOON.