- Joao Moutinho was heavily linked to re-join old boss Andre Villas-Boas at Tottentham
Now that the English transfer window has slammed shut for the next four months, and the questions we all posed in June have finally been answered. Will Modric finally leave Spurs? How will Villas-Boas make his mark on Spurs? Will Arsene finally change his much criticised transfer policy? Not all teams did the business that they wanted too and there was definitely one or two surprises which nobody could've expected. The side that arguably had the most eyes on them was Manchester City, summer after summer they've courted (and not always successfully) some of the biggest names in world football and we all wanted to know what Mancini and co had in plan this year.
A Period of Frustration for Roberto Mancini
As was to be expected, Manchester City were linked with pretty much every name under the sun this season, but it was a great surprise to see the distinct lack of activity at Eastlands as they look to defend their first Premier League title in over forty years. Questions were raised as to how much control Mancini actually had over transfers, as he continually expressed an interest in a number of players that never failed to materialise. They finally broke their transfer duck with the surprising signing of England U21 midfielder Jack Rodwell from Everton, a player who had only played a bit part last season due to injury and the form of Everton's other midfielders, though there's no question that the lad definitely has quality.
A Busy Deadline Day for The Citizens
We saw no more solid activity until transfer deadline day, where City completed 5 signings, Javi Garcia, Maicon, Scott Sinclair, Matija Nastasic and bafflingly, former Arsenal number 2 Richard Wright. Now to begin with I was completely baffled by Wright's signing until somebody pointed out to me that at the time of signing, Manchester city had 7 "homegrown" players in their squad: Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry, James Milner and Dedryck Boyata (now at FC Twente). This meant that they needed one more in order to reach the required 8 in their 25 man squad for the following season. This had previously meant that City were desperate to bring in Scott Sinclair as their 8th man, and Swansea knew this. With the signing of Wright, City already had their 8th man, so couldn't be held to ransom by Swansea, which probably decreased the winger's value.
New Personnel for a New Formation
- Scott Sinclair: Probably more of a bit part player this season
It's also clear from the personnel that Mancini has bought in that he intends to stick with the 3-4-1-2 formation that he's used so far this season. The signing of Maicon will probably mean that Richards may be converted into the centre half position that he played under Stuart Pearce at the Olympics. Nastasic seems like a straight swap for the mistake-prone Stefan Savic who has been a liability as an outside centre half. Again, Javi Garcia comes in to replace the outgoing Nigel De Jong, and will add a little more technical ability in the Centre, something that was lacking last season in the holding midfield role. What was surprising was the arrival of Scott Sinclair, who's mostly been used as an inverted winger in his career, which doesn't really fit into City's system. Sinclair lacks the finishing ability to play as a main striker, and lacks the creativity to play as the trequarista, a role perfect for David Silva. Maybe Mancini is looking for something a little different and has signed Sinclair as a plan B, which City lacked last season when they may need to look for a different dimension. There is one positive for Sinclair though, he's not the traditional winger like Adam Johnson, whose constant overlooking led to a transfer to Sunderland, a side perfect for him.
A New Policy for City?
This summers spending by City has been no where near the level that we've seen from them in previous seasons. This may indicate that Brian Marwood feels that City don't need to continue their massive spending sprees every year, and that small additions each year will be more sustainable, especially with the Financial Fair Play legislation coming into play from next season. The signings of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell in particular and to some extent Javi Garcia, show that City's policy is moving towards the unpolished talent rather than splashing out of the finished article, a policy which is more synonymous with Sir Alex Ferguson and City's Manchester rivals than the Manchester City of recent years.