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Manchester City defence must improve in Europe

Manchester City central midfielder Javi Garcia did not look comfortable playing at centre-back against CSKA Moscow

Manchester City central midfielder Javi Garcia did not look comfortable playing at centre-back against CSKA Moscow

Last night Manchester City claimed a narrow 2-1 win against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, with striker Sergio Aguero scoring a brace.

It was a decent result considering the shocking pitch and how difficult it is to visit places like Moscow. However, the performance from City’s defence was very questionable.

Let-offs

With less than ten minutes left on the clock it looked like the home side had equalised, as substitute Ahmed Musa struck a fantastic effort from outside the area.

The referee blew for a very debatable foul of Yaya Toure on the edge of the area and the goal was chalked off.

That was not the only let-off for City though, as in stoppage-time City keeper Joe Hart had to pull off a superb save from a Keisuke Honda volley. The relief was noticeable at the final whistle when the majority of the team ran to Hart to congratulate him.

Defence

Manchester City looked very shaky at back all night. The opening goal of the night scored by former-Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic seemed to sum up City defensive efforts, as Honda was allowed to win a flick on above a City defender, before Tosic ran through and lobbed the ball over Hart.

It was almost as if the whole City defence had gone AWOL. However, it was not just for the goal that the City back line looked vulnerable it was nearly every CSKA Moscow attack.

Out-of-position

I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of Javi Garcia as a central midfielder, so to play him in central defence is crazy to me. The Spaniard was one of the players that Roberto Mancini had to settle for in the summer of 2012, when the Italian felt that he was not given the big resources he needed to strengthen his squad.

Garcia was brought in to play central midfield, but the Spain international is behind the dynamic duo of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho in those central midfield roles. It seems that Manuel Pellegrini feels that Garcia is a good option to have at centre-back.

He had played in central defence before the CSKA Moscow game, but he just did not comfortable playing in the position. That led to the whole Manchester City defence looking very shaky. I do not think that Garcia should ever play at centre-back again.

City boss Pellegrini had England international Joleon Lescott available, but chose to play Garcia out of position, it just makes no sense at all. I cannot imagine that Lescott is too happy right now, a central midfielder getting in the team ahead of him.

Also on the bench was another England international Micah Richards, who has played most of his career as a right-back, but can play at centre-back. I just do not understand the decision of Pellegrini to play Garcia at the heart of his defence when he had defensive options.

Resources

A club with the financial power that City has should not have to be playing players out-of-position. The Citizens should have enough back-up players to cover every position. My question would be why have they not?

Maybe Pellegrini does not rate Lescott as a player, but if he did not then he should have brought in sufficient cover for first choice duo Matija Nastastic and Vincent Kompany.

Better

Manchester City will play better opposition in the Champions League than CSKA Moscow. European champions Bayern Munich cut through the City defence like butter at times. That is no shame, but if as expected City makes it to the latter stages of the competition then the better teams will take advantage of their poor backline.

Obviously City has the likes of Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis to come back into the team. The Manchester City defence should look more secure with that duo again available to Pellegrini.

The Citizens need the pair to return, because they cannot continue to persist with Javi Garcia playing at the heart of the defence. I hope for City’s sake that Pellegrini thinks that it was a short-term solution and that centre-backs will be employed at the heart of City’s defence in their next match.

Does Manchester City need to sign a defender in the transfer window?

Thu 24 October, 2013
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