Vital Manchester City member Mr Kev sent us the following…
I think it’s fair to say that 2008-09, despite its small successes, will be seen as a year of transition. One of the areas where it is clear that the theme of change needs to continue is in the heart of our back four. Though not entirely culpable for our poor form in this area, I feel that Richard Dunne has had his worst season in a number of years.
Furthermore, as we push on to challenging at the top table of English and European football, one gets the feeling that a captain with true leadership skills is something we are missing to our cost. Here I will outline some of the options to take the armband from him for the next campaign, assuming he loses it or even ships out to another club.
The Irishman has made a telling contribution since his arrival from Newcastle United (incidentally, his move may have cost them their Premiership status). He has shored up the defensive unit, not only with his outstanding shot stopping abilities but also with his vital communication skills; organising the back four in a way that Joe Hart has not learned to do. Let’s not forget that he has worn the armband for the Republic for the last couple of years – their most successful in a good while.
I think few people would begrudge a player such as Ireland being given the captaincy, if he can sustain the level of performance he reached in 2008-09. Some of the statements he has made this year about being dissatisfied with anything less than 100% effort, from himself and his team mates, have been truly inspiring. His belief in himself and the team has been something I’ve been dying to hear with conviction from City players for a long team. It’s terrific to at last have them coming from someone who can rank among the best in the league in his position.
When Kompany arrived from Hamburg in August, I was immediately swayed a little to the ‘Hughes In’ camp. I had seen some of the performances he had put in for Anderlecht and latterly Hamburg and had consistently been impressed. Even as early as 2005 the maturity with which he plays football has been remarkable. His ability to read a match was always indicative of an understanding beyond his years. At 23, he has been operating for a couple of years now at the heart of what is, increasingly, a notable Belgian side.
Finally let’s not forget that, when called upon to lead the team during Dunne’s suspensions this season, he has done a fine job. My only concern with VK is his injury prone past. This season his troublesome toe has taken the edge from his game since the turn of the year. I hope that it can be corrected so that he can return at 100% for the beginning of pre season.
Barry has, for me, been a real signal of our intent for the coming season. Tying up this deal so early in the closed season, I hope, sets the standard for the other signings we will make throughout the summer. Whether or not he captains our side in the coming season, I’m sure he will add leadership qualities to the midfield, in addition to the quality he offers at set pieces and on the left of central midfield. Hughes will doubtless be aware of the outstanding job he has done as captain at Villa Park, but may be mindful of bringing in a player from outside the club and immediately installing him as skipper.
The enigma that was Nedum Onouha, promising so much and delivering comparatively little, through a combination of few chances and a spate of injuries, was finally put to rest this season. After the shambolic FA Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest, Nedum came in at Centre Back, in an attempt to provide fresh impetus to what was one of the worst defences in the league. Since then he has barely looked back. He has read the game and defended with a maturity well above his still young years and indeed is in Sweden today preparing to lead the young lions into the European Championships.
A local boy, but one that represents the broad ethnic diversity of Manchester with his Nigerian birth, Nedum is an articulate, intelligent man as well as an outstanding footballer. If he can remain fit, he would get my vote as our new Captain.
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