Vincent Kompany’s enforced absence from the side has increased calls for us to sign new players – particularly a defender – in the January transfer window. But do we really need to bring in new faces? And would it be prudent to bring in new faces given the incoming FIFA regulations?
It has not helped that the team appear to be going through an inevitable slump. If we’d have beaten Sunderland, United and Liverpool in the Carling Cup, I’m sure the call to sign more players would have been much quieter. But we lost those games, and naturally the manager and (some) fans alike are clamoring for new faces.
To be fair to Mancini, he called this situation a couple of months ago, citing that we would need reinforcements in January given the departure of the Toure brothers to the Africa Nations Cup. He must also have known that David Silva could not keep on performing to the level that he has.
Also, managers will always be managers. Mancini lives and dies by what happens on the pitch, so it is only natural for him to push for new faces and maximize the impact we can have on the pitch. But I'm not sure whether the board will sanction any new additions in this window.
Whilst unfortunate, the Vincent Kompany situation is not the end of the world. Of course Kompany is a massive player for us, definitely one of the top three defenders in the world at the moment, but no-one is more important than the club.
The Belgian will miss four important games, no doubt about it. It will be very difficult for us now at Anfield, as we will certainly be put under the cosh there. The Spurs game also cries out for his presence – Redknapp’s men are as much a threat to our title ambitions as are United.
But at the end of the day, these are only four games. I am certain we can do without our captain – we proved as much in the second half against United.
We should balance the clamour of rushing into signing new players with a look at what we already have: Bridge, Kolarov, Clichy, Lescott, Savic, Onuoha, Richards and Zabaleta. At a pinch Barry and Milner can come back to fill in full back positions. That’s 10 potential options, without mentioning the untested Karim Rekik.
Of course, its 10 options in theory, but fans would argue the reality is leaner. Bridge and Onuoha appear to have been frozen out. Barry and Milner are emergency options. Playing them at the back would not just be playing them out of position but playing them in a different sector of pitch with different requirements.
But that still leaves us with seven options at the back, including the young Dutchman Rekik. Mancini has proved in the past that he is not averse to throwing in a youngster when it matters. He did so with Dedryck Boyata in the Carling Cup Semifinal second leg at Old Trafford a couple of years back. The Italian has hinted that he may turn to Rekik. I’m not sure whether that’s a ploy to alarm the owners or not.
In the end, this is the reason why we have a squad. Is this not the perfect opportunity to call on the likes of the EDS squad for a couple of substitute appearances? Isn’t football just as much about instilling confidence in younger players to go out and do the job as it is about identifying and signing established players?
In terms of resource issues, the same can be said of midfield, in fact perhaps here we have even less options on the table: Barry, Hargreaves, Johnson, de Jong, Milner and Nasri. Why not introduce the likes of Gai Assulin or Denis Suarez here?
If we know anything at all about Mancini, it is that he is a pragmatist. We have seen little of the likes of Rekik (17) Assulin (20) Suarez (18) and Savic (21 - although Savic has come right into the first team squad) probably because the Italian and his back room team do do feel these players are fully ready.
Mancini placed Savic at the centre of our defence yesterday, directly replacing Kompany. As Savic gave away the penalty, and was probably the weak link at the back, this may well now lead to Mancini taking even fewer risks in the youth department. But where else will the likes of Savic learn other than as part of the first team? Sometimes I think you have to accept the mistakes of younger players to allow them to grow into solid performers.
Financial fair play
We’ve had it good for the last couple of years in terms of signing players, but we’re going to have to get used to not getting out the cheque book every time we hit an injury / suspension crisis, and now is the perfect time to do that.
By 2013 we will have had to curb our spending on transfer fees and, most importantly, wages. Placing our faith in young players is the key plank of this effort. The club has already acknowledged as much with its plans for the Etihad Campus.
Blooding younger players is a habit, and we have to get into the habit of doing it. We’ve brought these younger players to the club, so someone must have shown faith in them somewhere along the line. Why don’t we now throw some of this talent into the mix?