Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes it is time for Wilfried Bony to show why the club paid £25 million to sign him from Swansea City in January.
Since joining City, the Côte d’Ivoire international, 26, has endured a lengthy stop-start spell at the Etihad Stadium, which has been impeded by the Africa Cup of Nation and injuries, including a bout with malaria at the start of the current campaign.
But Pellegrini has tipped Bony to shine in the absence of Sergio Aguero, who will miss the next month with a hamstring problem.
“He was very unlucky with the malaria he had at the start of the season and he had three or four important things that didn’t allow him to demonstrate why he is here,” Pellegrini said ahead of City’s league clash with AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
“But now with Kun [Aguero] out for one month I think it’s the moment, although I repeat, we can’t put all the responsibility to score goals on Bony.
“Remember last year in the middle of the season we had all the strikers injured and the midfielders scored because we made a lot of movements in attack.
“Now when we play against teams with eight or nine players behind the ball we make a lot of movement to give him an advantage and the option to score.”
In 2015, Bony–the top goal-scorer in the English Premier League in the calendar year of 2014–has bagged two goals and two assists in 16 league appearances, albeit just four starts, for City.
It is quite clear that the Ivorian is enduring a tough run of form in recent times. In fact, Bony himself believes this run is undoubtedly the worst of his career.
“It’s been the worst spell of my career without question,” Bony told City’s official website. “In the past five years I’d never missed more than two games in a row and at Swansea I only missed a handful of matches and that was mostly because of a red card I received.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck in the past year, but hopefully, that’s the end of it now. It’s not been the best time for me in that respect and has been very frustrating, but hopefully the City fans will now see the new Bony. All I need is the first goal to come and hopefully many others will follow.”
With Aguero out, Bony will need to end his run of ‘back luck’ sooner rather than later. Lucky for him, the bookmakers are backing the Bony to end that run on Saturday, with the Ivorian priced at 5/6 to score anytime against Bournemouth.
“It’s never good when your team-mates are injured but that’s the way football goes sometimes,” Bony added.
“Now I need to take things game by game and work hard. I have to take my chance and score goals for the team — that’s why I’m here.
“My first concern is helping my team-mates and playing my part – we’ll see how things go starting this Saturday against Bournemouth.”