Tactics Talk: What a difference a Dzeko makes to Manchester City

With the conclusion of Edin Dzeko’s protracted transfer to Manchester City from Wolfsburg, the focus of attention can move from his rather large transfer fee to the tactical reality of what his transfer means.

Until the signing of Dzeko, Mancini had utilised a fluid 4-2-1-2-1 system with a defensive base of six and then a four who rotate and play varying roles when the team has the ball. Carlos Tevez usually plays the role of a ‘false nine’, dropping deep from the centre-forward spot and picking up the ball before turning and attacking the back line. Meanwhile, the wingers play differing roles dependent on their individual style. For instance, when David Silva and James Milner start, Milner generally retains width on the right, dropping deep when City lose the ball, whereas Silva has a free role, almost in the mould of a trequartista, albeit one who drifts in from wide. Behind these three is usually the formidable presence of Yaya Toure, who uses his physicality and stamina to play both an attacking role as well as a defensive one.

As a general rule of thumb this is how the team lines up, but as noted the format of the attack is dependent on who actually lines up, and the addition Dzeko is likely to change the nature of City’s attacking play. City have been without a player who could be trusted to play with his back to goal and put in a shift of pressing the opponents defence. In Dzeko they now have a player who has been globally lauded for both his physicality and technical ability.

In succinct terms, this means that City will have another forward outlet beyond Tevez, who City have placed a lot of onus on to get goals throughout the season. The other change, tactically, to how they play will be to put less pressure on Toure as an offensive outlet.

One of the main drawbacks to the tactics Mancini has utilised thus far this campaign has come when Toure has found himself in the playmaker position. Playing this role does not come naturally to the Ivorian – moves to break down and again causes Tevez to drop deeper and deeper to take some pressure off his teammate.

Having Dzeko will mean Mancini has the option of playing a dynamic centre-forward with Carlos Tevez behind him, allowing him to exert his presence on the game without leaving City short around the penalty area.

The addition of Dzeko will allow Tevez to play a deeper role and combat the loss of physicality, should Yaya Toure have to be sacrificed. Considering, however, how pragmatic City have been this year it is likely that Dzeko will provide primarily an alternative, but his addition will allow Mancini more options in how to deploy his team going forward.

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