trouble in the city

manchester city's carlos tevez and roberto mancini
an unsettled tevez is the largest of mancini's problems with the city strike corps.

As we broach the halfway point of the summer signing period, it’s fair to say that the transfer docket has been a busy one already. Big money moves by the traditional powers across Europe have been popping  up on the news radar since the days immediately following the close of last season:

Let’s not forget the rumor mill either, as headlines linking power sides like Barcelona (who have all but signed the dynamic Alexis Sánchez), Chelsea (links to just about everyone), and Juventus (failing miserably so far, but still in for Kun Agüero) to star names the world over. So expecting further transfer excitement this summer is a given.

Of course, there’s one other big player in the transfer market that I haven’t mentioned thus far… everyone’s favorite oil-rich side, Manchester City. City have been, predictably, linked to every player on the planet just as they have for since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover two seasons ago. (I’m convinced that they throw their hat into every transfer discussion, even if they’re not actually interested, simply to drive up the price for their rivals).

And for those concerned that the world will continue to be flipped upside down with mega bids left and right, the Citizens picked up right where they left off in January. Already completed are the signings of Arsenal’s Gaël Clichy and Partizan’s Stefan Savić, both of whom will bolster City’s wide defensive options. Neither of those acquisitions is that surprising when you consider the style of play adopted by manager Roberto Mancini, who always seems more than content to pack it in and hold out for draws.

At the attacking end of the pitch, on the surface it also appears that they’re getting even stronger without spending an (additional) dime. Disregarding the existing strikers on staff, the sky blues will also the return of several class strikers to City of Manchester Stadium Etihad Stadium this summer from various loans. Craig Bellamy returns from the wilds of the Championship, and Adebayor returns from a decent spell at Real Madrid.

craig bellamy and roberto mancini of manchester city
something tells me that bellamy is putting on a fake smile here.

It would be foolish to think that there won’t be other signings (including what could be a retarded move for Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, who is essentially the same type of player as David Silva), so you could forgive someone for thinking that they might just be unbeatable next year.

So while all of that makes Citeh look like certain trophy challengers, I can’t shake the nagging feeling that the team’s current offensive circumstances might be a sign that their master plan to become a world power might not be going to plan.

Bellamy hates Mancini
Since it’s been a while since the Welshman has made any relevant headlines, it might be worth me hashing out a quick refresher on the Craig Bellamy-Manchester City story. Let’s just say, it could best be described as “rough”:

  • January 2009: City sign Bellamy from West Ham, their first “big” offensive signing of the Oil Era, for a reported £14 million. Craig leaves the Hammers among rumors that he was forcing his way out of the squad.
  • December 2009: Bellamy threatens to leave the Citizens over the firing of manager Mark Hughes, and is subsequently dropped by new manager Roberto Mancini.
  • August 2010: Fearing that he might not make the Mancini’s 25-man EPL roster after the arrivals of Carlos Tévez, Jô (back from his Everton loan), Roque Santa Cruz and eventually Mario Balotelli, Bellamy mulls retirement and expresses frustration with Mancini’s lack of faith in him. He eventually leaves on loan to Championship side Cardiff City, his hometown club.
  • June 2011: Hoping to make his loan to Cardiff permanent, Craig asks that City let him leave on a free transfer. The sky blue’s respond by slapping a £4m price tag on him… very unaffordable for such a small club.
The Welshman recently stated that he fully expects City to let him rot in the reserves this year unless a club meets their valuation of him, and that he and Mancini haven’t spoken since the week after the Italian arrived at the club. Old legs and a nasty injury record do give some weight to Mancini’s position, but a player of Bellamy’s… uh… pedigree festering on the bench would be equivalent to a cancer in the dressing room. And we already know how bad that can get.

Džeko could be impotent.
It’s still too early to call the Bosnian a bust, but I think the Bosnian is a bust. Six goals in 21 appearances for the Citizens is under-performing when you cost 27 million and reportedly asked for 175k per week in wages, unless you’re Chelsea and think that’s a great return compared to their baby-faced flop.

City will undoubtedly really want Džeko to make a u-turn this season, and a return to the form he showed at Wolfsburg (85 goals in 135 matches) would be a gigantic boost for next season’s prospects. It’s a steep hill to climb back to that level though, and if his confidence in front of goal carries over from last season, it could be a very difficult hill to climb.

If Džeko does want to reach his lofty purchase price, someone needs to make sure he doesn’t ask this guy for advice.

emmanuel adebayor at manchester city
will adebayor be able to secure a permanent deal at real madrid to escape his city hell?

Adebayor hates City.
You have to give to Ade: the guy has the uncanny ability to always stumble up. Regardless of where he plies his trade, the Togolese striker has starts the stint wonderfully, ends it woefully, but still manages to turn his next gig into a better one (see his goals to games ratio during his career).

Manchester City quickly looked to loan off the big man after his production started to fall off, and newer shinier strikers began arriving on the regular. And when he predictably put in a decent showing while on loan at Real Madrid, you just knew that Adebayor would try to trip into a permanent deal at the most historically successful club of all time.

Unable to secure a deal before the close of last season, Emmanuel headed back to Manchester for preseason. But Roberto Mancini long ago deemed the striker surplus to requirements, and left him off the club’s preseason travel roster. Naturally, this angered Ade. Seeing that the player and club’s relationship over the last year could best be described as tepid, I can’t imagine that now he would be even close to the type of player you would want mingling amongst your squad.

Balotelli is certifiably crazy.
I don’t care if he is giving away money and providing youngsters with (shoddy) advice; I’m not going to be fooled. There’s not really any need for me to elaborate, but if you really want to hear my thoughts on the Italian wild child… let me just leave this here.

Let’s just say putting all of your chips in the crazy kid’s corner on the goal scoring front might not be the wisest decision.

Tévez needs to leave.
For the longest time now, I’ve thought Carlos Tévez has just been a whiny bitch. He complains about life in England and how he’s not found anything to do there in five years, but he’s not even bothered to learn English. Tévez has long said that he’s been considering retirement, despite having his peak years ahead of him and lot’s more earning power. He came off as mercenary punk during his exit from Manchester United, and then rubbed his previous supporters’ faces in the mud by openly mocking them after joining their biggest rivals. And for the better part of 6 months, he’s been trying to squeeze his way out of City.

But if you were to ask me whether all of the drama that comes with employing Tévez would be worth having him on my team, I would overwhelmingly tell you “yes.” There’s no arguing that the mercurial Argentine is one of the most productive strikers in the game, bagging 86 goals in 180 matches for the two Manchester clubs. He has an engine that never stops, an asset that can’t be overvalued as he does it on both sides of the ball. Simply put, his on pitch efforts outweigh all of that, and I suspect that’s why clubs puts up with him.

What I didn’t realize though, was there was another driving factor in Carlos’ hope to leave the Citizens. While it’s clear that striker is at least a little unsettled, it’s really his wife who has had it with life in England. She’s already threatened to leave her fabulously rich husband because it’s so horrible in the British Isles. I mean, her husband’s band doesn’t even have a charted pop hit in England! How is this possible?!?! And while the two temporarily patched things up, she’s already moved back to Argentina, and me thinks she’s threatened to leave him permanently if he doesn’t follow her home. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to do what it takes to keep his family together.

Whether or not Corinthians or Boca Juniors, the only clubs that Tévez says he’d go back to South America for, have the ability to shell out the funds necessary to pry one of the elite strikers on the planet away from City remains to be seen. I suspect that if Carlos does go back to one of those clubs, it will only be if his “agent” Kia Joorbachian ponies up some of the fee himself and resumes his 3rd party ownership role (which is fairly prevalent in the Argentine and Brazilian spheres).

A lot needs to happen for Tévez to be reunited with his family anytime soon, and sadly for him, he may have to retire to make it happen.

The others are unproven or not good.
I’m not going to waste my breath talking about Jô, who is miraculously getting some looks from some Russian Premier League sides, as he clearly can’t cut it in England. Roque Santa Cruz was washed up when City signed him, and he’ll be lucky to trick Blackburn into taking him back again. Alex Nimely, a 20-year-old Liberian striker who’s been at the club since 2008, hasn’t sniffed the pitch during a first team match yet.

Needless to say, if two of Tévez, Adebayor and Bellamy leave, the Citizens definitely need to bolster their attacking ranks.

—————————————-

Look, I’m not trying to write Manchester City off this season. Their pockets are too deep, their playing staff too talented, and they did well enough last season with similar problems to qualify for the Champions League. To discount them, even with their strike force’s plethora of problems, would be nothing short of foolish. But if I were a City supporter (and due to their badass line with Umbro, I sometimes wish I was), I would be extremely worried about those problems.

If you’re trying to chase glory with three unsettled and unhappy strikers looking to move away, an overpriced dud, and a player who belongs in a straight jacket, even with all the talent in the rest of the squad… well, don’t expect to make it any higher than you’ve already made it.

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