City selection headache – possible line-ups for Sparky’s superstars

Manchester City’s spending this summer is rapidly approaching the £100m mark and a quick glance at their squad list shows that they now have no fewer than 28 first-team players and are still rumoured to be after more. Elano may have left but that still leaves Mark Hughes with an awfully large squad of extremely well-paid footballers and only 11 places to fill – just how is he going to do it? A Different League takes a look at likely line-ups Hughes may use with their respective strengths and weaknesses.

4-3-3

1 Given

2 Richards – 28 Toure – 22 Dunne – 3 Bridge

7 Ireland-18 Barry– 17 Petrov

32 Tevez- 25 Adebayor- 10 Robinho

The strong back four would be supplemented by Gareth Barry holding his position in the centre of midfield whilst Stephen Ireland and Martin Petrov assist the attack and go out wide to deliver into the box. Attackers Carlos Tevez and Robinho would sit just behind an imposing Emmanuel Adebayor and attempt to play through balls and send him on his way to goal whilst he will hold the ball up and allow the two South Americans to run on into the final third. Ball retention would be crucial as their limited midfield would make it harder to win back possession.

3-4-1-2

1 Given

2 Richards – 28 Toure – 22 Dunne

8 Wright-Phillips -7 Ireland – 18 Barry-17 Petrov

– 10 Robinho

25 Adebayor – 32 Tevez

A slight change on the 4-3-3 that sees a more solid and traditional bank of four in midfield but sacrifices a defender. This would leave them more vulnerable but would make it easier to win back and retain possession in the middle of the park. Robinho or Tevez can alternate in the role behind the front two and this system would also work with one of them playing behind Roque Santa Cruz and Adebayor.

3-1-4-2

1 Given

2 Richards – 28 Toure – 22 Dunne

33 Kompany

8 Wright-Phillips – 7 Ireland – 18 Barry – 10 Robinho

25 Adebayor – 32 Tevez

A more adventurous formation that sees just three at the back with Vincent Kompany sat in front of them. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Robinho would play on the wings but cut inside to support the forwards in a similar style to Arsenal, with Ireland and Barry winning the ball in midfield and launching attacks down the wings or directly into the strikers’ feet. Tevez will link the midfield and attack with Adebayor looking to pose the biggest threat up front. The key to this is the defensive midfielder, he will need to track opposition wingers and attempt to stop them from getting to far down the byline as that will then require a defender to move out wide, thus freeing up space in the middle.

3-3-2-2

1 Given

2 Richards – 28 Toure – 22 Dunne

8 Wright-Phillips -7 Ireland – 18 Barry

32 Tevez – 10 Robinho

25 Adebayor – 14 Santa Cruz

The most attacking formation on the list, this would have the combined threat of Robinho, Tevez, Adebayor and Santa Cruz in the attacking third. It does however leave them somewhat light at the back with only three defenders and three central midfielders and it is very narrow, but do not be surprised to see Hughes opt for this or something similar in the last 15 minutes of a match that City are chasing, it should make for some dramatic late winners and fantastic football at both ends of the pitch.

Fitting all of these world-class players into a team might seem like a “good” problem to have and there are surely plenty of envious managers out there. Mark Hughes is going to have to keep players happy who are not playing regularly, which is never an easy task and whilst planning the formations this writer found it almost impossible to imagine regular starting places for the likes of Craig Bellamy, Michael Johnson, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Petrov and even Roque Santa Cruz, but solving such problems is why Sparky gets paid as much as he does.

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