Will City’s failure to bring in defensive cover prove costly?
PUBLISHED: 15:49 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:49 10 March 2020
City fan Chris Bewick has a look at the club’s reaction to those early-season injuries to key defenders
I agree that defensive injuries derailed City's season before it got going. I also agree that injuries to Klose, Zimmermann and Hanley couldn't have been forecast.
However, some contingency should have been made and failure to do so will probably end up costing us dearly.
Going in to the last week of the summer transfer window City had just one fit centre-back (Hanley) and one recently converted centre-back (Godfrey - less than 20 games in the position). Two others, Klose and Zimmermann, were not fit and returning from injuries. Starting with just two was reckless in the extreme and, in those circumstances, an additional 'Premier League level' centre-half should have been 'borrowed' to cover eventualities (which duly occurred).
I've mentioned this before to Paddy (Davitt) and for people to moan about bad luck (which it was) overlooks a lack of contingency planning. Two fit was not enough.
Like many, I still hope and feel that our form will lead to points being gained and that survival is still possible. Should we go down, the above error will have been a leading factor.
In my opinion two other factors have contributed.
1: Poor use of the loan system: Fahrman - flop, Roberts -flop. If neither is deemed competent enough to play then why borrow them? Most disappointingly the flop of Amadou - seen as the physical hope in defensive midfield - turning out to be viewed as inferior to Tettey (only given a contract at the last minute) showed a complete failure in the loan market.
2: 4-2-3-1. We used this under Hughton when we went down, with Grant Holt cutting a forlorn figure at the top. If you play this system then you need goals from the three behind the striker. With the exception of Cantwell, the others just haven't contributed. As Pukki's finishing has weakened (have goalies worked him out when 1-1?) this has been starkly exposed. With just some contribution from others then points at Leicester (a), Wolves (h), Sheff Utd (h), Crystal Palace (h) Spurs (H and A), Newcastle (A) would surely have been gained. Big question - why has it taken Farke and Webber so long to see it?
I know that last year, with the playmaker deeper we had four players for the opposition to mark in forward positions and that wasn't ever going to be the case at this level so it should have been obvious at the start that we needed someone else with goals in them to play in the three behind Pukki.
Let's hope today continues our upturn and the above becomes irrelevant.