…and damned when they do. Hot on the heals of Raheem Sterling’s arrival through the front doors at the Etihad Stadium, Fabian Delph looked round the Aston Villa dressing room and saw understandably performed a second U-turn in a week!
Its always made me laugh how people bemoan the lack of english players in our leagues. There seem’s to be a mythical belief that lurking in the lower leagues and on parks nationwide that the world’s best players are just waiting to be unearthed by Premier League clubs. The reality is much too complex to get into without dedicating thousands of words to it but the fact is that the majority of English players have inferior technique from a young age and when it comes to buying English players clubs always demand top dollar whilst the players command huge wages. Clubs operating in a free market see a spaniard of equal ability and discover that he’s a fraction of the cost and sign him instead. Simple economics of business.
Anway, cue the second media outrage of the week as Delph arrived solely because of the money. this time the party line was Aston villa were a big club and that somehow that this was a sideways step for the former Leeds player. Now granted, they are Birmingham’s biggest club…but its BIRMINGHAM and winning the European Cup in 1982 and having both Stan Collymore and David Cameron as your celebrity supporters doesn’t make up for the fact that their biggest signings last season were Phillipe Senderos and Kieran Richardson. Yes, they reached the FA Cup final whilst City scandalously went out to lower league opposition and Jack Grealish emerged as the newest in a generation of talented youngsters who the British media will hang their noose around but when someone picks up the phone and asks you to play with Sergio Aguero and David Silva every week who is having second thoughts?
Now granted, playing time is an issue and I imagine he consulted Scott Sinclair AND Micah Richards before making his decision but the comparisons between him and Jack Rodwell, the other player he was compared to, are miles out. First off, Scott Sinclair was a million miles away from the England team, bought as a cheaper option for Alexis Sanchez (when he signed for Barcelona) by Brian Marwood and never fit into Roberto Mancini’s style of play and certainly not as a left winger. Mancini was also certainly not going to spend the time to try and develop a system in which he could fit. As for Rodwell, he had his chances and might have made the grade in City’s squad but his injury record was the end of him and you have to thank Sunderland for parting with eight figures for his services.
So how will Fabian Delph improve City? First of, he’s an England international, naturally fits into the centre of midfield as a more combative type with the ability to cover penalty area to penalty area, something City have lacked in their midfield forever. He covered more ground per game on average last season than any City player (granted he probably needed to) and would provide the legs to cover the back four that simply Yaya Toure can’t.
Last season City switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 trying to find the right combination that would allow Silva and Toure the freedom to attack whilst trying to accommodate James Milner, Sami Nasri and Jesus Navas. The addition of Delph would allow City the option of combining him with Fernandinho with Ferando, lying deeper, and operating the high press game which has so often been City’s undoing or they could have Delph deeper, with Toure and Silva in the middle to allow both Sterling and Navas to fly down either wing. If Pellegrini goes back to a 4-4-2 then Delph would be a more mobile option that would allow City to still field Toure in the middle.
Whilst Delph was labelled a mercenary and a Judas for leaving Aston villa apparently for the money, his arrival along side Sterling greatly increases City’s midfield options.
I don’t by any means thin he was the best player available on the market but I always think its worth signing players domestically as they don’t need to spend the time adjusting to the pace of the Premier League. In the past when City signed Fernandiho and Yaya Toure there were doubts about whether they could adapt to the speed of the league. I think City have got themselves back in the title race with two signings that greatly improve their squad, not enough to win it but to ensure that they will make a better fist of it this term.