Date: 13th January 2011 at 1:43pm
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Decisions, decisions. Dapper City gaffer Roberto Mancini has arguably one of the toughest jobs in the Premier League. January finds him pondering pruning his squad…

Four players in particular have been heavily linked with departures. Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Given and Wright-Phillips all became fringe players in the first half of a season that resulted in second placed City being well set to secure Champions League football next season.

Opportunity knocks, but following this week’s loan departure of Wayne Bridge to West Ham United and Michael Johnson’s readiness for games elsewhere, could Mancio be tempted to clear the decks of players who feel, or indeed are, marginalised? Certainly three of the aforementioned players have had a tendency to go public talking about themselves and their unrest.

Of the four Mancunian-exit candidates suggested, who should stay or go?

Seamus Given has been unlucky in that the serious shoulder injury he sustained towards the end of the last campaign gifted the outstanding Joe Hart a chance to make his name as City and England Number One. But if Shay leaves this month, experienced strength in depth in the goalkeeping department would be undermined with The Blues active and holding high hopes in three important competitions.

This correspondent went on record last weekend in suggesting that Joe Hart could maybe use a rest, but there is a strong possibility that Shay is going to leave to play in Italy any day now.

To many Blues continued disbelief, there is a very real likelihood that Jo will be staying at Manchester City. This means that if the Brazilian goal machine continues to make up the numbers alongside Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli, then certainly one of Emmanuel Adebayor or Roque Santa Cruz has got to leave in order that Mancio maintains a five striker strength.

Mancio has indicated that it will almost certainly be the latter. Why? Well certainly, historical evidence suggests that Adebayor should be the fitter of the two men. Mark Hughes made some outstanding signings as City manager but he also came up with some absolute stinkers and his inexplicable pursuit of Santa Cruz was one of them. A pisspoor six City starts has been a shocking return and a return of a different nature could be imminent if Blackburn, who creamed in £17,500,000 in selling Crocky take him back there this week.

And what of Adebayor? Our pals at Vital Arsenal predicted Sparky was signing trouble with a capital T and Ade’s time at City has been anything but dull. Yet, knowing what he is capable of, he hasn’t been used at all in recent fixtures. A surefire sign that he’s going to be up the road having been earmarked a trouble causer?

Mancio is reknowned throughout Italy as a hardliner and has already jettisoned the ‘off message’ likes of Bellamy, Ireland and Robinho whilst placating Carlos Tevez. Adebayor’s City future could go either way.

Finally and by no means least, City legend Shaun Wright-Phillips. I wasn’t alone in wishing that Shaunie had been substituted at Leicester through injury at half time last weekend rather than that he had been hopelessly off the pace and just could not get involved.

SWP’s City legacy needs no introduction and of all the City players I have met, he came across as the most determined and team focused that I’ve interviewed. We’ve been desperate to see the flying winger of old take defenders to the cleaners repeatedly this season, but when given the nod, SWP has failed to deliver and is in very real need of a confidence building run of games.

It hurt to see him in a Chelsea shirt and should he leave on loan this month, well, I personally don’t want to see him in anybody else’s kit. It would not do City any harm to hold on to a player that outside of the hysterical posturing of his Dad remains City through and through and great to have around the squad.

So, YOU are the Mancio. You have to balance injury risks, experience and squad strength heading into the club’s most crucial phase of fixtures in over a decade. Who are you going to call a taxi for?

Give us a shout both here and in the VMC Forums.

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Head for the VMC Match Day Experience Forum for the build up and beyond to City’s return to Premier League action against resurgent Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

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