Three Reasons Why Pep Guardiola Is Right In Handing Mangala A Lifeline At Man City
Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City boss, had a roller coaster ride in his maiden Premier League campaign where, despite having a high-flying inception of the 2016-17 campaign, the Citizens failed to carry the momentum forward and finished third in the league behind champions Chelsea and runners-up Spurs. Their Champions League run was not impressive either and the defensive vulnerability cost the gaffer time and again.
Guardiola, known for his attacking style of football with high pressing and passing, has invested heavily to fix his backline. Custodian Willy Caballero was released along with full-backs Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna, who left the club upon expiration of their contracts. Aleksandar Kolarov, the left-back who was utilised in a makeshift centre-back role last season, has joined Serie A heavyweights AS Roma.
Pep replaced the defensive exodus with a few fresh resources – Brazilian custodian Ederson joined them from Benfica, his fellow countryman Danilo has been recruited from Real Madrid, Benjamin Mendy was snapped up from Ligue1 champions Monaco and Kyle Walker, the former Tottenham Hotspur right-back, completed a switch after spending 8 seasons with the North London outfit.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, however, has not invested in a central defender yet and although he reiterated his desire to bring one in before the transfer deadline, Pep has reportedly handed another opportunity to out of favor centre-back Eliaquim Mangala to resurrect his Manchester City career. An unforeseen resolution it might be, but the tactician has apparently done the right thing by allowing him a lifeline for certain reasons.
Van Dijk ‘Not For Sale’, Top Clubs Unwilling to Do Business Late In The Window
Manchester City identified Southampton hotshot Virgil Van Dijk as their prime defensive target. But City were left baffled by Saints’ determination in keeping their prized asset against his will, who have refused to cash in on the Dutchman despite him handing in a transfer request. Other top defenders like Giorgio Chiellini, Kalidou Koulibaly etc. are not available so late in the window, thus it is better to hand one of their own a fresh start in new circumstances rather than gambling on a rising star particularly after John Stones misfired last season.
Successful Loan Spell With Valencia
The Frenchman was brought in by then boss Manuel Pellegrini for £32m from Portuguese heavyweights Porto, three seasons back. He, however, struggled in his first two campaigns and was loaned out to Spanish outfit Valencia last summer. Mangala showed signs of improvement and the loan spell has uplifted his confidence once again. City are still ready to cash in if any suitable offer is placed in next three weeks time, else he will be retained with the first team as City need a proper back up for John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, and injury-riddled skipper Vincent Kompany.
True Professional In Training And During Pre-Season
Mangala was a big name in Europe when he was acquired by the Manchester giants. The Frenchman was inconsistent and struggled to settle in, yet, he showed attributes of a true professional who kept on working hard and never had any complaint regarding the lack of game time. He vowed to return as a better player following his loan spell and the French international has done justice by impressing the gaffer during pre-season as well as training sessions. He has accepted his role of a squad player and is ready to wait for first-team opportunities.
All in all, it might just be a wise thing to do as City have already spent heavily on their defence. Handing another opportunity for a player who impressed on loan last season seems sensible.