Sinclair failure an indictment of City’s botched planning
Throughout the many excellent individual performances from Manchester City's season opening 4-0 demolition of the hapless Newcastle United last week, it was noticeable the manner in which the new signings not only fitted in to the side, but were key components of it.
August 23rd, 2013
Although Stevan Jovetic was injured and Alvaro Negredo introduced from the bench (but looked a threat late on) both Jesus Navas and Fernandinho earned the plaudits for their part. Navas, possessing the level of pace rarely seen outside of a 100 metres track was a favoured outlet for David Silva and his threat sufficient to draw defenders towards him, leaving vital space to exploited elsewhere. Fernandinho, in a deeper, role was nonetheless as effective. With Yaya Toure anchoring the midfield the Brazilian was a catalyst for numerous attacks; responsible for many of City’s final third entries, particularly over the first two-thirds of the match.
Both showed enough – as Jovetic and Negredo have in the lesser demands of pre-season – to suggest they will be significant contributors over the course of the season.
Whilst the transfer window draws to a close over the next week clubs the length and breadth of the country begin to scramble crazily for last minute reinforcements, desperately spending the cash to give their fortunes a boost. City, on the other hand, and this does feel slightly disconcerting given transfer windows of recent past, have somewhat ventured under the radar, having quietly and efficiently gone about their business – with the early results proving validation for the old decree of getting your business done early.
All of which was in stark contrast to twelve months ago. Rewind to this time last year and the first murmurings of discontent from Roberto Mancini were being uttered as he witness desired targets Robin Van Persie, Javi Martinez and Eden Hazard slip by. City responded, much to Mancini’s chagrin, by spending late on the lesser lights of Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclar, Jack Rodwell and Maicon.
As the season progressed the subject became Roberto Mancini’s bete noir; regularly railing against the indecisive approach in the transfer market from Brian Marwood which can hardly have endeared him to the squad, let alone the power brokers behind the scenes.
With Maicon having already moved on (back to Serie A with Roma) it was announced that Scott Sinclair has joined West Brom on loan for the 2013/14 season. The signing of Sinclair, whilst one that would see him join a stable of attacking players, was thought to be a positive one. Replacing the departed Adam Johnson, Sinclair was surely a better fit than Johnson for Mancini, less of the style of the orthodox winger but a more direct, pacy player.
A crowded front line afforded little opportunity however, with brief substitute minutes inspiring little confidence and Sinclair’s play appeared without purpose, clarity of role or, and most crucially, belief.
Sinclair was not the only player to suffer from a lack of trust by Mancini, but in a surprising turn the Italian blamed himself for the lack of opportunities he received and despite making 15 appearances in total Sinclair absurdly played just 198 Premier League minutes.
For all of Mancini’s grumblings, behind the complaints lay elements of truth of course. City were coming off the back of a title win the season before and readying themselves for a shot at the Champions League. The key player that City missed out on in Mancini’s mind was Van Persie, whose goals helped propel Manchester United to the championship.
The quality of signings City brought in can of course be questioned but as critical was the timing. With the season underway the squad was still the subject of daily transfer speculation, and with additional players arriving so late, Mancini became reluctant – without a full pre-season at his disposal – to fully trust any. Injuries hampered Garcia and to a greater extent Maicon and Rodwell, yet the minutes each played was symptomatic of this lack of trust and familiarity which left Mancini favouring his core group of players to the detriment of many in the squad.
None suffered as much as Sinclair who moves on from City following what was a wasted season, one which may have damaged his long term career. Fortunately 12 months on the club appeared to have learned from these lessons and appear to be already reaping the rewards.