LONDON: If you were to ask Premier League fans which attacking players they would like their clubs to sign given a limitless budget, the likes of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and David Silva would be at the top of most wish lists.
Put them in a rigid 4-4-2 formation like City manager Manuel Pellegrini, however, and they may not be so keen.
For all Manchester City’s attacking riches, the champions’ out-dated tactics are not lighting up the Premier League and they are in serious danger of losing their crown.
After playing with two strikers and neglecting the midfield battle during Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League defeat by Barcelona, Pellegrini attracted criticism.
With Yaya Toure alongside Fernandinho in the centre and David Silva and Samir Nasri on the left and right, City were over-exposed in midfield and not the creative force many would have predicted.
Liverpool’s attacking trio of Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling skipped around City’s uninspired formation at will, leading to further suggestions they need to change their approach.
Pellegrini, however, does not agree.
“The formation was not the problem. It was the best decision. In the first half it was a close game,” he told reporters. “When they won the game we were playing with just with one striker so that wasn’t the problem.
“I think they scored two beautiful goals, both from the edge of the box and impossible for Joe Hart to save. It was a close game, we had chances – David Silva, Kun (Aguero) hit the post and had another chance.”
City’s hopes of defending their Premier League title now hang in the balance this season as leaders Chelsea boast a five-point advantage with a game in hand.
“It’s three points less, when we drop points it’s difficult to try to reach the top of the table,” Pellegrini said.
“We must try to continue, to win the next game and as many games as we can, and we’ll see where we finish.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, busy sliding around the Wembley turf after League Cup success against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, will have no complaints if Pellegrini sticks to his misfiring formation.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)