Man City: Pellegrini Has Strengthened Squad But Destroyed Our English Core
A new dawn has risen over the blue half of Manchester. Under the tutelage of Manuel Pellegrini, the evolution of the Manchester City squad this season has been incredible. The intricate all-out attacking nature of the team and the appreciation of wingers are in dark contrast to the Mancini era - especially his early teams.
However, City now face a major threat as a direct consequence - the isolation and break-up of their strong English core.
For the past 4 years, Hart, Richards, Lescott and Barry have played an integral part in Manchester City's rise to the top. Throw in Rodwell, Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips and a few others and you realise, despite the massive changes, City have appreciated and attempted to implement English players into their squads. Yet, looking at the squad now, you'll succumb to the realisation that their English players are now threatened for the first time in years.
With Pellegrini still unpredictable so early in his tenure, the fate of players like Lescott, Barry and now Hart is uncertain. Age, form and the arrival of better players means a club, with a rich history of including English players, could start next season with very few English players and almost certainly no English starters.
Lescott's dwindling decline marred with Hart's recent error-stricken games means City could look to adequately replace them in January. Victor Valdes, Mangala are names touted and are by far superior players with their potential arrival almost ensuring Hart and Lescott's departures from the club. Scott Sinclair is in no mans land while Jack Rodwell can barely get a game yet is probably the safest English player at the club after Richards. City also face a tough decision on Gareth Barry, whose fundamental involvement in City's rise to the top is horribly underrated. With but 8 months left on his contract and still shining for Everton on loan, rewarding him with another year wouldn't be the worst idea.
With Manchester City's best youth teams being the U-13's to U-16's, it could be a while before an influx of local lads attempt to break into the team. In the mean time City should look to make the dreaded, tough decisions on their English players, decisions that could potentially break City's identity.
I'm hardly the most patriotic person you'll meet and certainly despite nationalism yet I understand the need to develop your own local players as well as having a duty as a top club to provide players for your national team. Although you'd have to push a few to admit it, many Blues would tell you how envious they are that United produce a lot of their players. Their fantastic array of young, English and academy-produced talent is highly coveted among English teams. Every top club has an identity: Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid are fine examples of clubs with a perfect mix of expensive superstars and academy products. City can mimic that by introducing more homegrown talent into the squad and ensuring their current ones are safe. Standing by Hart, Richards and Rodwell is a start, while making space for exciting youth players like Karim Rekik, John Guidetti and Marcos Lopes would be ideal. I mean is there a more sweeter sight then seeing a local, academy-produced lad lining up for your team?
City have been unfortunate in recent years with young gems like Sturridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Michael Johnson either being plucked away early or never taking off. Now in a strong financial condition, with a manager renowned for introducing young players, City have genuine opportunity to shape the identity of their squad for the next decade.