Monday, 24 August 2009

Sylvinho signs

One of the smoother transfers that we've done this summer; City have signed veteran leftback Sylvinho on a free transfer from Barcelona.

On the surface this looks quite out of sync with our other major business this summer. Having tied up Roque Santa Cruz, Carlos Tévez, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Barry and Kolo Touré so far this feels like a bit of a throwback to the Keegan/Pearce recruitment policy: picking up experienced thirtysomething internationals on short term deals, whose hauls of caps and medals seemed to insulate them from being dropped as they drifted through games. Think Steve McManaman, Michael Tarnat, Hatem Trabelsi, Ousmane Dabo, Bernardo Corradi and even Dietmar Hamann for 2006/07 if not 2007/08.

But one of the great luxuries of our current position is that we don't have to pick players just because they're famous. Sylvinho's not going to be first choice, and so if he wants to play he's going to have to earn it. When we can have Nigel de Jong, Pablo Zabaleta and Craig Bellamy on the bench, no-one's going to get into the team by default.

Back to my main point, though: this signing is more in keeping with the main trends of this summer's recruitment policy than is first apparent. The three key themes so far are: top six Premier League experience, trophy success, and the phasing out of the Eriksson purchases. Sylvinho fits with all of these.

First: top six Premier League experience. I've written about this before but every player Hughes has signed this summer (including Terry who did not join and Lescott who will do so soon) has at least two seasons' experience of finishing in the top six of the Premier League. The one exception is Roque Santa Cruz who finished seventh in his one full season with Blackburn. Hughes' thinking is clear: how better to take MCFC to sixth or higher than to fill them with players who have already achieved the same at other clubs? And Sylvinho fits this. He spent two years at Arsenal, making 23 EPL starts in both 1999/00 and 2000/01. In both of those seasons Arsenal finished second.

Second: trophy winning experience. Hughes spoke recently of the importance of players who have won major trophies in their career. He mentioned that a list of current players' trophy successes would impress. I compiled the list, and it does. Two Champions League medals, six Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two La Ligas and many more besides. In his career to date Sylvinho has won one Brazilian title with Corinthians, three Spanish titles with Barcelona and of course two European Cups. I'll update the trophy winners list later and re-publish it with corrections. But it's an impressive addition to the squad in this regard too.

The final strand of this summer has been the phasing out of all those players Eriksson signed in that exotic summer of 2007 (and January 2008). Tévez, Adebayor and Santa Cruz have allowed us to loan out Caicedo and Bozhinov, while the introduction of Barry in midfield has seen us sell off Gelson and Elano. The arrival of Sylvinho can only end Javi Garrido's spell at City, with a move to Racing Santander rumoured. Then, only Benjani and Martin Petrov would remain of the SGE signings. And I wouldn't be surprised if they both left before 1 September.

Rather than a departure from established transfer policy, this is almost as representative of it as the Lescott deal.

1 comment:

pjdemers said...

I will be brutally disappointed should Petrov leave. Even though he was signed by SGE,he seems well suited to Hughes'system. Not only do I see him as need cover for Robinho, he is more than capable of pushing him hard for the left wing spot especially for away matches against more physical sides (i.e. Stoke, Bolton, etc).

As Columnist Wallace Poulter has pointed out, should Hughes opt for 4-2-3-1 Petrov would be the ideal candidate for the left wing with Robinho moving to attacking midfield.

Moreover I'm sure he will get the starting nod for the left wing position for Carling Cup and FA cup matches. His direct running and crossing also make him an excellent 2nd half sub to run at tiring defenders and to exploit spaces behind the opposition on the counter attack. His goal at Barca was a perfect example of this.

Of all the players from the SGE era, I certainly believe both Petrov and Bojinov have a future at City as both combine guile and work ethic with no small amount of skill. They are both determined competitors who bring a lot to the table.