Monday, 28 May 2018

My player ratings ‘n’ other stuff – Manchester City

Throughout the season, I always keep my own personal running & ever-shifting ‘score out of 10’ on our players, depending on last performance against Premier League & European opposition and on current / general form.

 

Here’s my personal opinion-findings at the end of a terrific season for us (posted FAR later than I would have liked, so sorry about that).


(Includes * & ** additional ratings where players were in really good form as my ratings finished at the end of the season).

Keepers



With the balance of some decent & more-assured-looking performances in comparison to the previous season matched against some proper erratic & ‘flappy’ moments in his last couple of starts; it’s a ‘not bad’ 6 for the Chilean back-up keeper.

Ederson: 8.5

Is already making his mark with most City fans – excellent positioning and VERY brave in addition to his assured foot work and kicking. Having just signed for us and then extended his contract to 2025, we could have a new goalkeeping hero at City for many, many years to come.

Defenders


Danilo: 7

Definitely improved towards the end of the season whenever asked to cover at left or right-back. Definitely looks more comfortable on the right, especially in an attacking wing-back sense where he looks more awkward / has to ‘drag it back’ but not bad for a ‘back-up’, side-defender. Seems to still be lacking confidence from the bashing he apparently often got from a lot of Real Madrid fans but Pep will get that back into him. I think we’ll see an improved version next season…


Is still defying the medics & doubters. Would probably have got a higher score had he not had more time in the treatment room and followed by bit-part, slow re-introductions to the side. But once in and back up to speed, he was his awesome self again in the last quarter of the season in particular.


A Winter transfer window who looked comfortable enough on the ball but who, I think, found the pace & ferocity of the Premier League a little bit of a shock. Once ‘bedded in’, however, I think we saw more of the player we’d been monitoring for some time and he was outstanding against Brighton in the last home match of the season.


Not as ‘on fire’ as I expected him to be at first and following the HUGE reputation that preceded him, then I could see some signs of what we expected…and then he ‘went in’ unnecessarily during an early-season home game and got himself injured for most of the season; where we then had to put up with his various social media shenanigans for a long time, which do seem popular with most City fans I have to admit. Came back sluggish but, once again, improved as his fitness came back a little. Looking forward to seeing more of him next season…


Becoming a stalwart in many ways. Without often appearing to be ‘top class’, he’s just a very steady and very good defender. That’s all you can ask for, really. Seems to have largely got rid of his ‘red mist’ / rash moments and added 5 goals to his tally this season too. A very good season from the Argentine.


‘The Jury is still out’ would be the best phrase to describe where John sits with a lot of City fans. Some suggest that a season out on loan at a decent-level club might do him some good; whereas others even suggest just ‘getting rid’ in the summer and use the money towards a better replacement. I’m of the opinion that if we can get most his injury niggles out of the way next season then a 3rd season under Pep might bring him on a level; a level where he can remove some of the errors and lapses of concentration we sometimes see. Still…whenever he managed a few games I don’t think he did too bad at all in a defence that recorded the least goals conceded in the Premier League last season and I think a lot of fans also forget just how classy he looked prior to his injury in November 2017.


Was definitely heading for an 8.5 before a little dip in form and a couple of injury niggles towards the end of the season (I think there was a little bit of ‘’England / World Cup watching’’ from both him and his club manager too, which might also explain some of that in the latter weeks). But in general – and aside from a couple of lapses that lead to at least 2 goals that I can remember – he has been a fantastic addition to our team that has helped also to take the sting out of losing ‘our man Zabba’ from the same position at the end of the previous season. Very combative almost to the point of overly aggressive; a decent defender and most certainly a very good, forward-thinking right wing-back.

Midfielders



Unbelievable season! And, similar to Kyle, if he hadn’t have-had a couple of quieter games toward the end (although he still managed the assist for THAT 100-point goal) he was heading for a 9.5 ** at one point. Incredible work-rate, determination, skill, passing and goal-scoring from both open play and set pieces. Hang on! That’s starting to sound almost like ‘the perfect player’! At a great age an under one of the best managers in the world, can we squeeze a 10 ** out of him next season?


Or should that be Fabian ‘the Savior’ Delph? We might have been a little jittery when thinking about his injury record and the fact that he was covering for the long-term-injured Benjamin Mendy but my GOD; not having him – and having him playing so very well – would have caused us some problems (and that’s taking nothing away from the young lad I’ll be coming to later). It speaks volumes that he’ll be taken Russia with England for the World Cup as someone who is both very competent, to say the least, as a defensive / central midfielder as well as a left wing-back. Some of his games were solid 8/10s and, for me, never dropped below a 7 as far as I can recall. Got a little silly in the F.A. Cup against a Wigan side who were also ‘dishing it out’ a bit and we did see a little injury period towards the end of a very long season. But he has spent nothing like his usual time in the treatment room and I think we saw an excellent season from the Yorkshire & England man!


It’s clear to see that the Spanish, attacking midfielder / forward has talent and isn’t phased at all about being involved in first team action. We didn’t see much of him but I suspect he’ll be nurtured & improved even more by Pep and his staff.

Fernandinho: 8.5 *

Like David Silva and a good wine, another one who just gets better and better with age, does our defensive midfielder from Brazil. And to think that one of our close-season transfer priorities is a defensive midfielder! But I can fully understand that thinking; we need to give this 33-year old fella some breathing time during next season and for us to go with just one anchor-man when all will be doing their upmost to knock us off our perch next season wouldn’t be very wise at all. As for the season just gone, Fernandinho has been consistently very good indeed; has largely removed his silly & unnecessary challenges that he used to pepper his seasons with and quite-rightly gained some MotM awards from some quarters and in some games; in a season where there were so many fine performances from others around him. The sign of a very good player? He did his job so very well ‘under the radar’; where he quietly snuffed out attacks and laid the ball forward for the ‘icing & cherry’ moments.


The most used EDS player last season and like his youthful colleague, Brahim, didn’t look phased at all in the first team. In fact, this busy midfielder from Stockport does a lot to find and work with the ball. Having previously shone big time (winning the player of the tournament) for England in the FIFA Under-17s World Cup, I think we’ll see a lot more of this Manchester City graduate who has every opportunity to become a fantastic player; learning not only from the manager and his coaching team but also from the array of talent he both trains and plays with.


Clearly has talent, showed it at times and contributed 6 goals and 3 assists in his first full season after a horrible injury in 2016 / 17. “Slowly, slowly” might not be what the player himself, at 28 in October, nor his Manager would like to hear (the German international played the least number of minutes compared to his midfield / wing colleagues, with the exception of the afore mentioned youngsters) but his progression from knee ligament damage has been well managed and I think he’ll be another important player for us in next season’s, 4-competition campaign.


“What a talent” is a phrase I found myself naturally saying so many times last season and to think that we – Pep included I’m sure – can ‘just sense’ that he has more gears yet to find is a frightening prospect for the opposition! The, “still to learn” factor, does creep out very briefly and every so often but that’s most certainly over-shadowed by not just moments of real class but real stand-out-game-performances. Long may this fella remain a Blue!


Grew and grew and GREW into the season as the months ticked by. It was clear for all to see - and was spoken about by many City fans - in the final third of the season in particular. Brought in, I tend to think, as more of a central midfielder in the mold of David Silva; Bernardo got a lot of game time on the right-wing. Yes, that might be a position he also occupied some of the time at Monaco but what’s even more amazing for me, is that he did that in a season where most would consider it to be Raheem Sterling’s best ever Premier League campaign! His bursts of pace, trickery, passing & crossing as well as his ability to switch his play from by-line crossing to cutting inside AND having really good shots on goals caused the oppo all SORTS of problems in the latter weeks of the season! And at just 24 in August, I think this is another player we’ll see more of next season.

David Silva: 9.5 *

 The fact that I’ve already mentioned him twice in this piece goes some way to say what a wonderful player this hero of mine is…but only some. As I’ve already stated, this player is just getting better and better with age and I’m sure Pep has to take a lot of credit for that continued improvement also. Any Blue who studies matches and player performances should be able to tell you how brilliant David is on the ball; what amazing vision he has to anticipate runs of his colleagues and to pick out incredible passes. His interplay has to be one of the best in the world! And, most of all I think you’ll find City fans saying also, he just has this ability to make the whole team ‘tick’! His “official” nickname is “Merlin”, referring to the magician of course. But I also – and more often do – call him “The Maestro”, for his ability to somehow conduct the whole team’s tempo. I’ve even heard non-City fans say similar in praise of our Spanish midfielder and I’ve noticed this season also how Kevin De Bruyne doesn’t quite hit the heights when he doesn’t have the 32-year old next to him (they’re a dream combo for me). I think so highly of the little fella that when asked, in an e-mail from the club, to vote for my ‘player of the season’, I literally sat in front of the PC for 5 minutes with my mouse pointer hovering over both David & Kevin and although I’ve scored them both a 9.5 * in this piece, I eventually went for Silva over De Bruyne. Why? Well I think it’s these 4 factors really. 1. Although Kevin probably got a few more ‘9 out of 10s’ than David, there were times where he had a few of his old, ‘gone missing’, 6.5/10 games; whereas David rarely dropped below a 7.5 / 8 out of 10 and got his fair share of 9s too. David was just slightly more consistent for me. 2. Kevin looked slightly off pace without David but I don’t recall the reverse of that. 3. David has ADDED so much to his game this season – looks fitter than ever and has even improved his shooting / goal-scoring; the one thing he lacked in previous seasons. 4. He did all of that and remained a thorough professional, as always; with the serious worry of-having a very premature baby to be concerned with, which included visits home whenever possible. What a guy!

Raheem Sterling: 8

Well I’ve already said that I think he has just had his personal, best-ever Premier League season and no-one could seriously say otherwise; with 23 goals and 12 assists. That, then, does paint a confusing picture by me slapping “only” and 8/10 next to the fella. But, as I’ve said, it is a rolling score and without being certain, I think I recall him tailing off towards the end as he shifted position in the absence of Sergio Aguero in the latter weeks. However, I think the score has been tempered a little by his still-annoying habit of not being able to finish when he has time to think about it in ‘one on ones’ – if his decision making was as good as his ‘instinct strikes’ we’d be looking at a winger / forward with the ability to get 35+ per season! Still…an excellent season from the England international.


Didn’t make many appearances this season (just enough to get an outright winner’s medal) and looked way behind the pace of this new, vibrant team. Did what was asked of him with little effort in the latter games; sitting deep and spraying the ball around with relative ease but, I will also add, with a touch of class & grace. Nothing special at all this season from the Ivorian with the limited game-time he had but a player nonetheless who fully deserved all the credit the club gave him in his farewell game.


In tandem with Fabian, this attacking midfield / left winger was asked to re-train as an attacking wing-back as cover also for the injured Benjamin Mendy. And how did the 21-year old (last December) cope? Well I thought he did remarkably well for the most part. I think we all felt a little more assured with Fabian ‘in there’ for the bigger games but as the talented, ‘son of Kevin De Bruyne’ look-alike added both tackling & positioning to his game; he really did produce some fine displays. I hope these rumors of the Ukrainian giving an interview to a Russian magazine a few weeks before the end of the season about him not liking life in England nor his colleagues are way, WAY wide of the mark, because this is another youngster who would be handy to have around next season…

Strikers


Sergio Aguero: 8.5

Doesn’t it say a lot about the talent of a player where Sergio can miss so many games with injury (and ‘comeback game periods’) that he can still bang in 30 goals in all comps and get 7 assists? He also seems to have to ride every season with speculation surrounding him that, “…he’ll be gone before the season starts” and / or, “…this’ll be his last season for sure”. Yeah, he has the odd off game or half-game where things just don’t seem to bounce right for him; some even suggest that the soon-to-be 30-year old occasionally looks like he struggles to keep pace with the moves that our younger midfielders & forwards produce. But for me he still has the incredible ability that most top clubs would LOVE to have and I think he can still frighten defenses in a City shirt until his contract expires in June 2020. Another crackin’ season from our top scorer.


I’ve heard it said of our Brazilian striker that he’s not the answer to our striking needs; that he just doesn’t quite ‘do it’ for some fans. And I do get that to some degree – in the heated battle the Premier League throws up, where teams also have defenders built like castle turrets & defensive systems built like ramparts; one look at the slim frame of the South American can have you asking yourself, “Does he have what it takes to ‘cut it’ in England?”. Well he has most certainly had his fair share of fairly serious knocks both last season and in his first half-season and has bounced back very well each time. And, for me, he’s not just got amazing ability but an incredible work-rate and desire to chase the ball for the team…and I also don’t think 17 goals and 3 assists for a player who played around 1,000 less minutes than Raheem Sterling is a bad return either. A solid 8/10 for me.

The boss


Pep Guardiola: 9.5 *


More Pepper sir / madam? The news that our manager signed a 2-year extension to his remaining 1-year contract was probably the best news of the season; perhaps even eclipsing the amazing & many records he pushed his team to achieve in 2017 / 18. Wonderful! If I could first address any minor niggles Guardiola had with his decision making in the season just gone, it might be his starting line-up in the F.A. Cup loss to Wigan Athletic. Some might question his selection against Manyoo in the 2-3 home defeat ahead of the Champions League clash with Liverpool (I would only perhaps really question his half-time team talk that may have contributed to the 2nd-half collapse in that game) and most definitely Pep not learning from last season’s clash with Jurgen Klopp in the 4-3 away defeat; in how to deal with the way they seem to play against us (not helped, of course, by very poor refereeing & other official decisions). But that’s it…unless someone with a more keen / critical eye can think of more? But as for everything else? Huff…WOW! An amazing tactician; gets his team so fit & organised and boy does he get the best out of ALL of his players. And, for me, he gets an ‘extra star’ for the end of the season, where he continued to motivate his game-weary players after we’d secured the league to ‘push on’ and achieve so many, record-breaking statistics!

Just as a little add-on…


The home crowd


7/10

Wasn’t a bad home atmosphere most of the time (I only attended Premier League games) for a modern, all-seater stadium. Some games were pretty quiet with the often-usual away fans providing most of the noise. But I think some of that came from the shear awe of the football we were watching from the boys in sky blue & white for large parts – I for one was one of those who just didn’t want to take my eyes off the game-play; rather than perhaps shout my throat hoarse and flinging my arms around, as I have done so often and for so long. The trophy & medal-giving ceremony at the penultimate was ruined for a lot of fans, as a few hundred, YouTube wannabes raided the pitch after the game and took far longer to shift than, apparently, one local radio station suggested at the time.

The City fans in general


6/10

Certainly not in every case, of course, and perhaps it’s just a lot of City fans that I seemed to bump into last season…and especially at the ‘end of’. I just found myself being really quite shocked and very irritated at the over-criticism from some Blues when we didn’t win or, on occasions, won but only by a fine margin; where we may have struggled to break the ‘oppo’ down for long periods. It wasn’t from ‘Johnny come lately’ fans either; in most cases it was from fans who had been through thin & thinner over the decades! Of course, expectations are bound to rise and I too expect, to a certain degree, more from highly-paid, very skilled players under the tuition of one of the best managers in the world. But…flippin’ ‘eck did I hear some crazy, CRAZY over-condemnation from some Blues! One fella, who I’d never met before, popped into my local one evening to watch a City away game and he just would NOT stop slagging off Kyle Walker for some reason; not just for the game we were watching but in general, as though he was one of the worst defenders on the planet! Annoying to say the least…

The bar near to where I sit in the ground


4.5/10

After a period of slight improvement in 2016 /17 and early last season, it declined into utter chaos; with the ever-changing staff looking more & more bewildered and even frightened to say the very least. If I was to rate the last few months in particular, I’d have to give it no more than a ‘2’. Bobbins.

In a little, separate piece coming soon, which I WAS gonna tag onto the end of this Blog-posting but wanted, instead, to ‘get this one out’ ASAP; my usual (for regular readers at least) ‘empty seats count’ for last season…

2 comments:

  1. Nice considered season analysis

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    1. Thank you, very much appreciated and thanks for taking the time to read.

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