Push Yaya Forward & 4 Other Things City Need To Do Between Now And May
As we approach the start of April, we find ourselves in a situation far worse than this time last season. Even with the miraculous recovery that culminated in last-kick-of-the-season title glory, this year our trophy retention dreams are over. Our cross city rivals have blown the league apart with vengeful efficiency and the will not to repeat their mistakes of last spring.
After a summer and a January of questionable transfer dealings, we arguably found ourselves with a squad less prepared than at the start of last season. De Jong was obviously a huge loss, as it was his bulldog like approach that helped spur us to success late in the day. Nastasic, however, was a masterstroke. Recently turning 20, Nastasic has disputably been the first name on the team sheet for the majority of the season with an unparalleled level of consistency, and often holding up Kompany at the back. Garcia has slowly grown into his role but his turn of pace still looks like that of a double decker 192 to Stockport.
City's last outing at Goodison Park saw us at our heartless worst. With a lack of passion and drive, our eternal bogey team breezed past our lethargic and disinterested side. The next month is probably the most important of the season, with United away, Spurs away and the small matter of an FA Cup Semi Final to overcome. Kicking off the manic month is a newly reinvigorated Newcastle side, and a comfortable win at home is pertinent to the coming April, for both the team and the fans.
What will forever disappoint many of our travelling fans is not the loss on the pitch, that is easily forgiven. It is the lack of respect shown from our own players to those who have splashed their hard earned to see their team; a day out in Everton is a £100 day when everything is considered, pennies to those wearing the shirt. All we ask for is that they show us some regard, it isn't too difficult to come and thank those who have made the journey at the end of a game, especially after a woeful display as seen in Merseyside, not to mention the trip to the south coast last month.
So, how can we ensure that we restore some pride and cut the gap between United and ourselves, as well as ending Chelsea and Spurs' hopes of catching us in second place?
Get Stuck In
The tone at Goodison was set from the outset when Fellaini found himself quickly into Probert's book. Why is that a bad thing? They showed aggression and fight, something which some of our lightweight players seemed to lack, no bite and no guile. We need to make our presence known, and with the returning Yaya in the middle of the park and our captain slotting back in, we should have the front to strike some fear back into opponents.
It really is that simple. Not long ago we all used to jibe Arsenal with trying to pass the ball in, but we are guilty of that far too often at the moment. At times, barring Tevez, the side look terrified to test the keeper from outside of the box, which is both frustrating, and ineffective, especially when other teams have worked out our passing game by now.
DO NOT Play Barry AND Garcia In The Middle
Barry, in the twilight of his career is still incredibly effective in his role of pulling the strings in the middle. Likewise, Garcia plays a similar role and I am sure that in seasons to come he will step into Barry's boots, but playing them both together? Not for me. Milk has turned quicker and we lack any creativity, as well as any pace. The problem with playing them both together, is that they hinder any attack and when they do get forward, their lack of agility leaves us vulnerable on the break, something which many sides have picked up on and taken advantage of. Both are brilliant players in their own right, but playing together we are going sideways, not forward.
Play Yaya Further Forward
Undoubtedly the piece-de-resistance of our title run-in of last season was bringing on De Jong late on and throwing Yaya further forward. Even without the Dutch enforcer, against Chelsea at home last month, Yaya was given a role much higher up, playing off the striker and we looked utterly dominant. When the big man plays too deep he is wasted. Going forward he is incomparably powerful and utterly terrifying to opposition defenders and has a healthy goalscoring record to boot. Perhaps this is the answer to the Barry/Garcia conundrum, that if Mancini does decide to play the passive pairing to allow Yaya to roam where he feels most comfortable.
Look To The Future
With one of the country's most revered youth systems which is growing by the day, if we are to secure second place in the coming weeks, why not bleed some of the youngsters? The likes of Razak, Suarez, and the forever-hyped John Guidetti are waiting in the wings, amongst many others, and with the title a million miles away, now may be the best chance to give them some time to bed in.
The season has been disappointing on the whole, but after last season, that was inevitable. All that could change within one short month, a win at Wembley and a win at Old Trafford would restore pride and instil some promise going into what is an incredibly important summer at Manchester City.