Beauty in The Beast As Negredo Shines For City
A quartet of players followed Manuel Pellegrini through the entrance door at Manchester City this season, with the new man in charge being backed to the tune of some £80 million as the Blues looked to wrestle back the title that they won so spectacularly in 2011/12.
December 3rd, 2013
The players that arrived were largely big on both reputation and promise, but of the new arrivals it was perhaps Alvaro Negredo from whom the least was expected, or at least anticipated of. Fernandinho had built a solid Champions League-based reputation, Jesus Navas was the thrilling speedster and Stevan Jovetic the young colt with so much potential.
With Negredo though, there was an air of wariness; as if no-one was quite sure what to expect. True, he was coming off the back of a strong season (alongside Navas) at Sevilla yet his numbers were far from prolific.
Coming off the back of the departures of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, and coupled with an uncertain future for Edin Dzeko, there were genuine concerns over City’s ability to put the ball in the net. After all, 2012/13 had not seen a lack of chances created but converting these became a grave concern as the season wore on.
Was Negredo really the answer? After all, City’s striking lineage shows a recent history of failure: Giorgios Samaras, Bernardo Corradi and Rolando Bianchi all flamed out at the club without any hint of success. These are now different times however.
The Spaniard began the season on the bench, Manuel Pellegrini opting to start with Edin Dzeko, and the early form of the side suggested that Negredo would find it difficult to break into the starting line-up. With compatriot and fellow big-money signing Roberto Soldado (who moved for almost an identical fee) beginning the season in goalscoring form (albeit primarily from the penalty spot) it appeared as though Tottenham may have picked up the better player.
Pellegrini’s faith was rewarded however and when Negredo started the Manchester derby after spending the first month on the bench, it was to be his coming-out party. Amidst City’s 4-1 victory were the first fledgling signs of what has become an immediate partnership with Sergio Aguero.
The trickery and tenacity of Aguero has dovetailed perfectly with Negredo’s pace and directness. But to label the ‘Beast of Vallecas’ as merely an old-fashioned British number nine would do him a dis-service. Possessing a sure touch and excellent mobility, Negredo has more than fully played his part as City have begun to run riot in recent weeks, and has displayed the form and commitment that City fans long hoped that Edin Dzeko would; where blood, sweat and tears are commodities often valued in greater measure to the aesthete.
As comfortable as Negredo is now looking in tandem alongside Aguero – the pair have scored 15 goals and have a further six assists – Dzeko is wearing an increasingly uncomfortable air, altogether nonplussed that his early praise of Pellegrini (and to be fair, goal return) has not ultimately been rewarded with any more minutes than he saw under Roberto Mancini last season.
Given the way Negredo has settled into his City career, there is little chance of this situation changing anytime soon, such has been the fashion that he has settled in without a hint of struggle; living up to Pellegrini’s assertion that he is the ‘perfect player for the Premier League’ and proving that despite selling Negredo on when he arrived at Real Madrid, he sees a long future together for the pair.