Since Sheikh Mansour took over, Manchester City have embarked on an immense task of developing a mid table side into a team that can seriously contend not only domestically but also on the biggest stage in the Champions League.
There have been a lot of players brought into the club since the takeover. Some have survived the journey and are considered part of the backbone of the team, while others have fallen out of favour and are considered surplus to requirements.
Last season saw the fans truly spoilt for choice when it came to choose their player of the season which was eventually awarded to Vincent Kompany. But who will shine in the 2011-12 season? We’ll take a look at some of the likely candidates.
Joe Hart: The 2010-11 season saw the emergence of Hart as one of the best keepers in the Premiership, solidifying himself as City’s and England’s No.1, pushing several far more experienced keepers out of the running. Perhaps the most impressive was that he was chosen ahead of Shay Given for City’s No.1 spot, as Given has been widely regarded as one of the best keepers in the Premiership for some time. Hart also broke City’s clean sheet record and was awarded ‘Performance of the Season’ at the MCFC Player Awards in May for his outstanding display against Spurs. There is still room for improvement in his game and at 24 he has time on his side. Deeecent.
Vincent Kompany: Mr dependable, player of the season and considered by the vast majority of fans to be next in line for club captain. In fact many believe he should already be captain, such is his composure, consistency and attitude both on and off the pitch. After coming to City as a defensive midfielder under Mark Hughes’ reign he has shifted into the back four with ease and has become arguably the Premiership’s best defender. Kompany, just like Hart is still relatively young for his position and we have certainly not seen the best of him yet. And what thought that is.
Pablo Zabaleta: The ever ready utility player, Zabman has become somewhat of a cult hero amongst City fans for his sheer determination and willingness to put his body on the line for the cause (literally). Pablo was treated for cuts to his head more times than he would care to remember, having who knows how many stitches over the course of the season. Amongst his other injuries were a gash to his thigh as a result of a standard Paul Scholes tackle and breaking his nose multiple times during the season. Don’t believe me? Check this out... http://mcfc.co.uk/Video/Features/Social-Media-Choice-9-Zaba-the-indestructible
Nigel De Jong: After being vilified the world over after his ‘kung fu’ style challenge on Spain’s Xabi Alonso during the 2010 World Cup, followed by the hounding he got after Breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg in what was ultimately a fair challenge, you could have forgiven De Jong if he didn’t have the same drive in the rest of the season. But no, the midfield general continued with his no nonsense approach to tackling, breaking up the opposition’s attack before neatly passing the ball back out to someone to build an attack of their own. He even bagged a goal for himself, the first since joining the club in January 09.
David Silva: Signing for City during the 2010 World Cup, many pundits and so called experts gave the diminutive Spaniard little chance of adapting to life in the rough and tumble of the Premiership. But after a relatively slow start the man described by former Spain Manager Luis Aragones as “small with big balls” quickly became a fan favourite claiming the Player of the Month award for three months running from October to December. He became instrumental to the team’s performance, possessing world class vision and ability to pick a pass, providing the vast majority of City’s creative midfield spark throughout the season. Although a little goal shy, always preferring to pick out a fellow player than take the glory for himself, David Silva is set to light up the Premier League again next season.
Adam Johnson: Bought for £6m from Middlesboro in January 2010 he has become a favourite with fans for his pace and dribbling ability causing full backs no end of troubles. Although due to the pace he likes to play the game he often makes less of an impact when starting games than he does when coming on as a sub. But he has provided his fair share of goals and also broke into the England squad since joining City. Considered to sometimes run himself into trouble and lacking end product, he certainly has room for improvement, but like most other players at City he is still young and still developing as a player. AJ certainly has the potential to be a formidable winger in the years to come.
Mario Balotelli: Perhaps the most controversial player on the face of the planet, Mario has divided audiences the world over with his antics both on and off the pitch. He has racked up a number of bookings and red cards, been derided for his lack of effort and his moody countenance even after scoring, been in trouble for throwing darts at youth players, crashed his Audi R8 and when asked by police why he had £5k in cash on him his reply was “Because I am rich.” It doesn’t stop there, he got into trouble after driving into the grounds of a women’s prison because he was curious as to what it was like, has an allergy to certain types of grass, and had bust ups with players and the manager. Oh yes, he can’t’ put on a training bib, heckled one of Wayne Rooney’s (ahem) escorts, has racked up £10k in parking fines, and uses San Carlo’s as you would use Domino’s Pizza, and swore live on TV saying “My whole season has been sh*t, can I say that?” Just for the record, no Mario, you can’t. Have I missed anything out? Oh of course, he’s been accused of having connections to the Mafia and wound up Rio Ferdinand by winking at him. But between these antics he has also sorted out a school bully after signing an autograph for a young boy outside the training ground, gave a homeless person £1k of his winnings outside a casino, regularly tips Big Issue sellers £20, affectionately calls Roberto Mancini ‘papa’ and has several charitable causes that he contributes regularly too. He is such an enigma with masses of potential which we were given a slight glimpse of at the end of the season. Just how will he get on in 2011-12? Time will tell.
Edin Dzeko: After signing from Wolfsburg in January for £27m the Bosnian diamond failed to make the impact that was expected by many. Although in his defence he arrived after the German winter break so lacked match fitness in the toughest league in the world, was played out of position at times, didn’t get the service he needed and appeared to have a distinct lack of confidence as the season progressed. Even so, it was a smart business move by Manchester City as Dzeko is a national hero in his home country and his inclusion in the squad instantly increased City’s fan-base by several million. The true test of his worth will be in next season when he has had time to settle in the squad and has a good pre season under his belt. Will the Bosnian diamond sparkle like his countrymen believe he will? Opinion is divided amongst many City fans.
Well there are eight players with the potential to be Player of the Season come next may, although there are others who could seriously contend for that crown. It certainly shows the kind of squad City have put together since the takeover and who knows, someone not on this list may outshine the rest, Carlos Tevez (if he’s still here), Yaya Toure, Micah Richards James Milner etc. Or could it be a player bought during the current transfer window? Whatever the outcome, the 2011-12 season is set to be on hell of a ride.