In the fourth installment of ‘Tacticle Your Fancy’, Simon Smithdiscusses the merits of Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov and explores the idea of a back ‘three and a half’…
This has been a strange week for Manchester City’s full backs. I basically love Aleksandar Kolarov, but I strongly hate the constant popular analysis of him. It’s not that it’s wrong, on Match of the Day when the pundits gather round and highlight his attacking penetration but defensive shortcomings, or when the fans are rightly frustrated when a lapse in his concentration allows yet another testy ball into a dangerous area.
No, that does very well summarize the issue in Pellegrini playing him. The reason I hate that isn’t because of its inaccuracy but for the same reason I detest comparisons between Theo Walcott and defensive workhorse James Milner, why I loathe it when an old reliable like Ashley Cole is held up as an example of what Kolarov should try and emulate. These players play in the same part of the pitch, but they are far from the same position.
So to find myself enjoying not only Kolarov’s performance against the unfortunate Newcastle United on Sunday but also the quality of analysis on Match of the Day 2 was something of a surprise. Was there more detail than usual, a clever insight into his role I had missed? No, just the usual pointing out of his wide attacking overlapping with Silva cutting inside: an interesting feature but one prevalent in many top sides and a regular tactic of Mancini before Pellegrini.
What made the analysis good was what was left unsaid. Kolarov was effectively analyzed as if he was a midfielder in City’s 2-6-2 formation. Continue reading →
In the autumn of 2011 David Silva was regarded as the best footballer in the Premier League. James Dutton asks why the stall in his career since has gone largely unnoticed…
Cast your minds back to October 2011 and Manchester City’s 6-1 drubbing of Manchester United; a result that looks less era-defining now, 20 months on, but which momentarily confirmed City’s unrivaled ascendance in English football.
The performance was as virtuoso as the result was seismic; central to it all was the dynamism of David Silva. It confirmed his status, in autumn 2011, as the best player in the Premier League.
The Spaniard was instrumental in the first two goals, scored by Mario Balotelli, combining with James Milner to devastating effect, and struck late on himself. He wove a tapestry across the Old Trafford pitch with every swish of his magical left boot, constantly twisting and turning, drifting into space and always with an innate awareness of those around him.
He provided City’s coup de grace for the final goal; an instinctive, 40-yard volleyed through-ball from inside his own half to set Edin Dzeko racing clear. It remains one of the greatest assists in Premier League history. Continue reading →