Sunday, 18 January 2009

A long term solution?

I've written before about 'The Micah Richards Problem': that he is a full back, who has now spent one and a half seasons playing centre back - when he should have been learning his trade as a right back. In both summer 2007 and summer 2008 he watched as MCFC spent big money on a ready made foreign right back: Vedran Corluka from Dinamo Zagreb and then Pablo Zabaleta from RCD Espanyol.

While it would be best for his personal development if he played right back every week, the fact is that Pablo Zabaleta is a better right back than Richards. And centre back doesn't make the most of his talents. Yesterday Hughes had a good solution: playing Zabaleta in central midfield and Richards at right back.

It worked well - Richards was impressive and Zabaleta was outstanding. But is this a long term solution? When Steven Ireland comes back from suspension, and we sign maybe two or three from Kaká, Wilson Palacios and Nigel de Jong we will be overburdened with midfield options. I also hold out hope that Michael Johnson will come good as a Manchester City player.

When all these players are available, there will presumably not be space any more for Zabaleta to play in midfield. So what happens then? He moves to right back, and Richards has to move inside again? Or one of them gets dropped? Ideas in the comments please.

2 comments:

simon said...

I think it's the other way round. Micah is a centre back who has been diverted into playing right back. Physically and in terms of skill, he isn't suited to the wing back role but he is imposing and talented enough to be a great centre half. The problem is he hasn't yet developed the positional and tactical awareness to make the position his own.

I suspect that if we get Palacios or de Jong, we will see Kompany drop back into central defence. The question then is who will play alongside him. Neither Dunne nor Richards has made a particularly convincing case this season but I somehow think that if Dunne plays alongside Kompany, who is skilled and composed, his own game will return to the level of the last few seasons. It's clear in retrospect that Dunne's problems started when Distin left: they were a great partnership.

So if Dunne plays alongside Kompany, Richards then becomes a squad player, filling in for injuries and suspension and switching between right, central and even left defence, which will be bad for his development. If City buy another central defender this transfer window, his position will be even more precarious. The risk is, for all his talent, that he could end up as the new Titus Bramble.

Steven McInerney said...

With Kaka -

............. Hart ...............
Zab...Richards...Kompany...Bridge
........De Jong Ireland .........
SWP ......... Kaka ....... Robinho
............ ?????? .............

Without Kaka -

............ Hart ...............
Richards...Onuoha.. Dunne...Bridge
........Kompany De Jong .........
SWP ......... Ireland...... Robinho
............ ?????? .............

I'd personally play Onuoha at Centre half every time, but I think the 'with Kaka' team, with Richards learning from Kompany and being directed as necessary would be great. The with Kaka team could also completely negate the need for a striker and be something like this....

............ Hart ............
Richards Onuoha Kompany Bridge
........ Zabaleta De Jong.....
..............................
SWP Ireland Kaka Robinho

With the front four all just getting forward / staying back as it suits. Robinho is likely to stay foward the most obviously. All of Kaka, SWP and Ireland have the maturity to help back. And all four are attacking players who will cleverly take turns up front. 'Total Football' you could say.