Why are City feeling so blue Closing of transfer window will be key to Mancini
21:30 GMT, 27 August 2012
As the world's richest football club, it seems peculiar that Manchester City will perhaps feel relieved when the transfer window closes on Friday evening.
Only then, though, will Roberto Mancini and his players be able to focus solely on trying to retain their Barclays Premier League title.
The subject of player acquisition dominates Mancini's thoughts at the moment.
Cutting a central figure: Former City captain Carlos Tevez will continue to exert his influence in the absence of other creative players
Meanwhile, there are players in his squad who have little idea whether they will still be living in Manchester in a week's time.
It's the same at many clubs, of course. This period of uncertainty is an unfortunate by-product of a window that remains open for a few weeks after the season starts.
Nevertheless, City – laboured in drawing at Liverpool on Sunday – have a look of hesitancy about them at the moment, and issues surrounding transfers are not helping.
Mancini, the club's Italian coach, is fond of a dramatic statement. After his team's unconvincing 2-2 draw at Anfield, he suggested that the coming five days would determine his team's season – and that is certainly an exaggeration.
Phone a friend: Mancini remains hopeful of adding to his squad before the transfer window slams shut on Friday
There is a clear sense, though, that Mancini needs to clear his head after a summer of to-ing and fro-ing over the club's business with football administrator Brian Marwood.
Life at the Etihad Stadium has been a little disjointed over the summer and opening League performances – Sunday's draw was preceded by a 3-2 home win over Southampton – have reflected that.
This week, City will continue in their attempts to sign a central defender. That is Mancini's priority.
A move for Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen was recently considered and then dismissed as impossible. There is still a possibility that Liverpool may re-engage over Danish defender, Daniel Agger.
Case for the defence: Manchester City considered a bid for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen
Elsewhere, the winger Scott Sinclair will arrive from Swansea as an understudy for just over 6million, while a firm bid for Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi is likely.
Mancini will hope for progress. He will hope for anything. Or, more pertinently, anybody. His relationship with Marwood is modest at best, even if he has never been remotely close to resigning.
If things do not go well this week, it will be tested again. Mancini did not want to be chasing players in the last week of August. He made that clear in May, yet he is doing just that.
Out of sorts: City star Silva is short of match sharpness
At Anfield, City had a peculiar look about them in more ways than one. With David Silva short of match sharpness, Sergio Aguero injured and Gael Clichy absent because of complications with the birth of a new baby, Mancini fielded a team that featured four players – Carlos Tevez, Nigel de Jong, Kolo Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov – who he began the summer happy to sell.
This, as much as anything, spoke volumes about the club's difficult period in the market. What was also odd – at least at first glance – was City's formation.
Mancini set his team up to play 3-4-1-2 and left one of last season's heralded central defenders, Joleon Lescott, on the bench.
Bench: Lescott was left out of the City starting line-up which faced Liverpool on Sunday
Playing against just one Liverpool centre forward – Luis Suarez – this looked rather odd but City insisted privately yesterday that this was not a selection born of negativity.
Mancini's rationale was to play with two ball-playing defenders either side of one centre half, Vincent Kompany, and release wing-backs Kolarov and James Milner down the flanks to essentially play as midfielders.
Below par: Balotelli was off colour against Liverpool
It was this formation – at least in Mancini's mind – that allowed his team to start with two strikers and another forward, Samir Nasri, just behind them. Whatever the case, we can expect to see this formation again from time to time.
In the long-term, though, Mancini will start out with the four-man defence he used last season to win the title.
Not prone to bouts of panic, Mancini is known to be sanguine about the way his team have started the season. They have had to come from behind in both League games so far, but at least they have managed to do so.
Silva is scheduled to be restored to the team at home to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and that will certainly help. The Spanish international effectively missed a week of training when he was asked to travel to a friendly in Puerto Rico after the Community Shield, and City are gradually trying to get fitness into his legs before he is asked to play every weekend once more.
Similarly, the capricious Mario Balotelli is some way short of his best after his lay-off in the wake of the Euro 2012 final.
The Italian was poor against Liverpool, meaning that the burden of responsibility once again landed squarely on the shoulders of Tevez.
English football's most famous South American has impressed Mancini's technical staff since his return from a summer break.
Statistics compiled by the club's analysts showed Tevez's workrate to be phenomenal during pre-season, and that has continued now that the competitive football is under way.
There is a certain irony, of course, that as we approach the anniversary of one of the game's most notorious rows – Tevez and Mancini in Munich last September – City are once more looking at their former captain for a little inspiration.
Getting shirty: Tevez celebrated his 100th goal in English football in the 2-2 draw at Anfield
His goal at Anfield was his second of the League season and his 100th in English football. All of a sudden he is talking about an extension to his current contract and, although that is a rather ambitious refrain, it is undoubtedly the case that Mancini will need the 28-year-old to be on his game, as he awaits Aguero's return to fitness, and then some more productive performances from his other offensive players.
Fortunately for City, their September and October Premier League fixtures are not that daunting. QPR, Stoke, Arsenal, Fulham, Sunderland, West Brom and Swansea are the champions' opponents over the coming two months.
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