Manchester City, despite all their spending every year, are said to be overly reliant on Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero – players they’ve had for a long time. This summer, they did some terrific, albeit expensive, business and got Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi who have helped add some much needed freshness in the team.
Despite the new signings and the old ones doing well for themselves, one player who has stood out for the Manchester side is Fernandinho.
When City decided to stump up £30million for him, most fans had no clue who he was and even if they did, the fee seemed extremely extravagant. Perhaps it was as well. He was not an international player at the time, had no major honours to show for his career and was playing in the Ukrainian league. However, the Brazilian has shown why Shakhtar demanded that sort of money for him.
It’s not as if he is only showing his ability in his third season. The Brazilian was never a bad acquisition. In fact, the first half of his debut season was really exciting. But he faded towards the end of the season and perhaps doing the running for both him and Toure took its toll. Last season, the entire team looked poor and City’s midfield was a major weak link.
Manchester City have always been better chasing the title and it wasn’t surprising to see them get off to such an emphatic start. Fernandinho has been an instrumental figure in the side picking up points and doing well in all competitions. So far, he is averaging an impressive record of 3.7 tackles per game along with 1.9 interceptions every 90 minutes.
The Sky Blues’ campaign has hit a bit of a blimp as they succumbed to Premier League defeats to Liverpool as well as Stoke City. This has many wondering what role Fernandinho should play and what the perfect midfield for Pellegrini would be.
The argument for Fernandinho and Fernando being the club’s starting midfield duo is compelling. The former has to curb his attacking instincts when he plays alongside Yaya Toure. Toure might be one of the most influential City players around but he has never been too great at defending. When Fernandinho partners the Ivory Coast international, he has to take care of all the defensive duties and does the running for both players. This obviously means he doesn’t get to play a major role in the attacking side of things.
While it does allow Toure to get forward with ease, and come to think of it, Fernandinho’s brilliant 13/14 season form could be a big reason for the former Barcelona player scoring 20-odd goals. His poor form in his second season after the World Cup humiliation with Brazil, played a major role in Toure playing extremely poorly (and being written off) as well.
But one would wonder if it would be for City’s best interests if Fernandinho played a more central role for the side as someone who drives forward as opposed to someone who just sits back shields the defence. After all, the Brazilian averaged about seven goals a season at Shakhtar, which shows he can get involved in the attacking and of course, enjoys playing that role.
Pellegrini likes to set out his teams in an expansive style, and while this gives the fans plenty of goals, it also makes the defence far more vulnerable. Against Sevilla in the Champions League, Fernando’s introduction from the bench proved to be the real difference as alongside compatriot Fernandinho, the duo brought much more control in the heart of the pitch. An assured defensive role from Fernando in the game allowed Fernandinho to be the side’s driving force from the midfield.
The 30-year-old himself admitted that he feels that a midfield alliance with Fernando could help City’s cause this season and cited common language as being an important cause for that. Communication on the field is as important as anything else and in this case, matters more than one would think.
Fabian Delph is another player City have to their disposal. The former Aston Villa midfielder has featured in eight games since coming back from injury and has done better than most would expect. A midfield pairing of Fernandinho and Delph might be something Pellegrini works with in the coming games.