Anis Bazza looks back at Maicon’s inglorious stay at Eastlands…
Maicon’s arrival in Manchester was certainly an odd one. City already boasted arguably the two best right-backs in the league at the time while Maicon’s career was dwindling towards an inevitable return to Brazil. Inter Milan’s desire to get his huge salary off the wage bill meant Mancini couped the ageing Brazilian for as little as £3m. City supporters weren’t without their doubts though as Maicon signed on deadline day.
Maicon started plenty of games for supposedly a third choice right back, including both Champions League clashes against Real Madrid. He was even drafted into his first game against Stoke. It didn’t take long for Blues to realize why Inter had sold him so cheaply. I guess it’s fair to say Mancini, who was familiar with Maicon during his time at Inter, underestimated the effect age had on the Brazilian’s power and pace, two attributes that are so typical of his game.
Maybe I’m being harsh on Roberto. Let’s not forget Maicon was easily the best right back in the world for many years, completely shutting out Barcelona’s Dani Alves from the national team altogether. You could almost go on to say that Jose Mourinho ‘abused’ his abilities during his tenure there; Maicon was that good.
His presence down the right was unmatched in Europe and his contribution towards Inter Milan’s treble-winning season was huge. His decline was just something quite extraordinary, something even Mancini couldn’t have predicted. The only real shame was that Maicon never arrived in the Premier League earlier at his peak.
It’s not to say his move was a complete, uncalculated disaster; Maicon instantly became a valuable asset when Micah Richards suffered a season-ending knee injury against Swansea. Despite being a shadow of the man he was at Inter, Blues managed to soak in some of his intelligent attacking play – easily his strongest attribute.
Studying Maicon up close made you aware of how mentally superior he was to most other right-backs. His movement was excellent and aware while his build-up play was incise and resolute. He even managed to force himself into Mancini’s Champions League first XI. Maicon was well past it at City but you could still pick up signs of his game that hadn’t given way to age and injury.
Despite being absolutely calamitous at the back, Maicon was a joy to watch going forward. His trademark, buccaneering style of attacking play was a joy to behold at times, most notoriously pinning back Gareth Bale at the Etihad only years after Bale had torn him apart in the Champions League.
His presence down the right that game ensured City held onto their 2-1 lead; it’s no coincidence that he was the man to finally successfully implement Mancini’s favoured 3-5-2 formation against Tottenham. The Brazilian’s happy-go-lucky mentality and charming smile even allowed him to establish his own cult following at City.
Unfortunately it was obvious that this transfer was not going to work out. His momentary lapses of concentration became far too common and City fans ended up sitting anxiously every time he played. His defensive brain-farts overweighed his tenacious attacking game while his £100k-a-week wages threatened to cripple City’s ambitions to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fairplay Rules.
Despite not working out, Maicon’s time was not all doom and gloom as some would have you believe. His presence in the dressing room was positive while his versatility allowed Mancini to experiment with his 3-5-2 formation. The dreamy and playful Brazilian could have easily rocked the Premier League a few years ago. Hell, Maicon even put in a few good shifts against Real Madrid and Tottenham at the beginning of the season.
Inevitably he departed for Roma, to no surprise, leaving Manchester City on a free as City’s executives attempted to cut their losses on the Brazilian. It’s saddening that a player as likeable as Maicon would join a list of Brazilians that failed to make the cut at Manchester City.