Adam's promise plus City's best defence
- Sat 06 Oct 2012, 8:45AM
- Posted by David Clayton
There is no major surprise that today’s Press is almost entirely dedicated to Adam Johnson’s return to the Etihad Stadium with Sunderland.
And no surprises that it’s hardly positive stuff, either, with the popular former City winger unlikely to be fulsome in his praise for Roberto Mancini.
While the City boss adopted a more pragmatic approach, understanding Johnson’s reasons for wanting to further his career elsewhere having given the winger a platform to really make his name on, the same cannot be said in return.
The only thing AJ is promising to do is not celebrate if he scores today “out of respect for the fans.” It is a shame things didn't work out for Johnson at City, but it's time to move on, now. It’s out there and not hard to find if you want to read the stories, but our interests today are better served by Alan Smith’s analysis of an unusually leaky City defence.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Smith says: “Few can understand why Mancini changed a winning system, why he dropped Joleon Lescott as Vincent Kompany’s partner or why he started experimenting with three at the back.
“The club’s famous title victory, after all, was built on defensive resolve. In Kompany and Lescott, Manchester City had two top centre-halves.
“From what I hear, though, the Italian truly believed he had to make changes in order to move the team forward. That meant introducing a better player on the ball than the limited Lescott, hence the appearance of young Matija Nastasic.
“In pre-season, what’s more, the team had looked very good with three centre-halves. It seemed like a shape that might just work. Mancini, however, was forced into a rethink when the tactic backfired at Liverpool in August.
“Neither did it last long against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, the manager quickly reverting to four at the back after conceding a soft goal with three. The move only seemed to confuse, to leave defenders unsure of their precise role.
“For Saturday’s home game with Sunderland, then, Mancini will surely stick with what his players know best and hope several can up their game to the levels of last term. Kompany, Yaya Touré, Samir Nasri, none has found the form that served City so well.
“But a certain starter today should be Gareth Barry, whose calm demeanour and sound positioning have been missed at times. With Javi Garcia doubtful, Barry should get the nod to lend some stability to a stuttering midfield.
“His experience can certainly be useful in countering the lively Stephane Sessegnon, just as Lescott’s strength in the air might come in handy if James McClean gets a chance to swing in a cross towards the prolific Steven Fletcher at the far post.
“Mancini might want to move forward but, in doing so, he shouldn’t ignore some dependable stalwarts.”