Connor Southwell: Vrancic’s quality has seen him cast as a super sub
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Mario Vrancic is a quality footballer – you only need to watch him play to know that.
The Bosnian is the type of footballer capable of reminding you why you chose to follow football, whether it be the superb range of passing or the precise free-kicks, he is a joy to watch.
Daniel Farke is his biggest fan, the founding member of the Vrancic fan club. Often supporters question why the classy midfielder doesn’t start in games, something City’s boss puts down to concerns over physicality and mobility.
City’s win over Birmingham City graphically illustrated his quality again. At this level, the midfielder can be the decisive factor in games, as he proved on Tuesday.
When we record our live videos for our various social media channels, the same question always arises: Why isn’t Mario Vrancic starting?
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In Ollie Skipp and Lukas Rupp, City have discovered a partnership that offers them a degree of defensive security – although they still look open on the counter – and functionality.
Rupp, in particular, impressed. But those positions have altered from when Farke first assumed his position in City’s dug-out.
- 1 Farke makes a pact with City squad
- 2 TEAM NEWS: Rupp injury setback ahead of CIty's trip to Derby
- 3 'Our only concern' - Farke reveals City's promotion roadmap
- 4 Stiepermann opens up about health problems
- 5 Farke misses out on monthly award... Again
- 6 Norwich City transfer rumours: Prolific Greek international in Canaries' sights
- 7 City boss too busy to worry about his contract at the moment
- 8 Farke hopes 'outstanding' City midfielder can shake off injury issues
- 9 Farke on Canaries records, Rooney and respecting the Rams
- 10 Hanley a big fan of new City star
Contrast and compare the players that occupy that double pivot now with how Farke lined up against Fulham on the opening day of the 2017/18 season.
The midfield three comprised James Maddison, Harrison Reed and Vrancic. All technically proficient footballers.
That’s not to say that Rupp and Skipp aren’t – but they do possess more industry and less creativity than operators like Vrancic or Moritz Leitner.
The scars of the Premier League have altered Farke’s view of what that double pivot consists of – it’s the reason Vrancic is now placed in the number 10 debate.
As a caveat, in games where City are dominating, such as the one on Tuesday, then deploying Vrancic in a deeper role to help unlock a door can still be effective.
For all the talk of a lack of mobility, it was Vrancic who was in support of Adam Idah to capitalise when the ball popped up into his path.
He possesses the quality to change results – every time he has scored after coming on a substitute Vrancic has turned the game and ensured City have either won a point or all three.
Goal one – a 2-1 win over Reading, September 19, 2018
Vrancic replaced Emi Buendia and was on the pitch for only five minutes when he scored the winner to secure a valuable three points for the Canaries in their title-winning campaign.
The Bosnian delivered the perfect response after Jon Dadi Bovardsson produced an equaliser for the Royals only a minute prior.
The result helped build upon the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough that many credit as being the turning point of that season.
Goal 2 – a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic, September 29, 2018
Vrancic replaced Todd Cantwell and got a longer run of 26 minutes in this particular fixture.
Jordan Rhodes had missed a penalty against West Brom so the responsibilty fell to Vrancic after Teemu Pukki was fouled in the area. He placed his penalty straight down the middle to ensure City won three points and stretched their winning streak to four matches.
Goal 3 – a 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, April 19, 2019
This contribution is perhaps the most memorable of them all.
Picture the scene – the clock has ticked past 96 minutes and Vrancic has just won a free-kick on the edge of the area.
As a packed Carrow Road waited with baited breath, he stepped up and curled it into the net to rescue a crucial point towards City’s promotion.
Goal 4 – a 1-0 win with Birmingham City, October 20, 2020
Aitor Karanka’s Birmingham City were stubborn defensively, but Vrancic once again produced the goods to help City claim their second win in successive matches.
When you add the assists the Bosnian has produced after coming on as a substitute in his City career – three – the tally adds up to a seven-goal contribution.
Vrancic will be now be hoping he can be called upon in Farke’s starting XI.
When City are piling on the pressure in search of a moment of quality capable of turning a draw into a win then Vrancic has the composure and skill to do just that. In the Championship that is pivotal. Especially as City look to take the burden off Pukki and seek to share the goals around.
Vrancic will be hoping to become City’s superstar rather than simply their super sub.