Manchester City’s work had already been done. Edin Dzeko had been signed with the intention of relieving the pressure on Carlos Tevez for goals, whilst peripheral (not to mention controversial) figures such as Emanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz completed their inevitable departures from Eastlands. The squad may now be a little more streamlined. City will certainly hope that it is more potent.
The activity that took place may inadvertently help City in the short term. Prior to Monday, Edin Dzeko’s transfer – as the most expensive of the month to have taken place up to that point – was the one upon which all the attention was focused. A couple of goalless, rusty performances in which his acceleration was questioned and his sharpness in front of goal queried threatened to put undue pressure on the Bosnian. Make no mistake, when such an outlandish outlay is put on one player, the results had better come quick. Whilst City’s struggles at Meadow Lane raised more concerns about the team, the one relief was Dzeko breaking his duck as a Citizen.
As quickly as it was thrust upon the City of Manchester Stadium, the spotlight has moved away, shining brightly over Stamford Bridge and Anfield where cataclysmic changes have been made. The focus which was once on Edin Dzeko has shifted to Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll. Suddenly the queries about the rationality of spending £27m on a player without Premier League experience seem a little irrational in the context of a once-capped, injured youngster with a chequered past off-the-field being valued at £35m. Whatever has been said about Dzeko’s early performances too, his goals-per-game ration exceeds that of Carroll at the top level.
Whilst it may be churlish to write about the lunacy of spending policy within the Premier League, valuing Fernando Torres, a player who has struggled for fitness and form over the past two years, may work in Dzeko’s favour too. Chelsea are now faced with the problem of how to fit Torres and Didier Drogba into the same team, changing a system which brought them the Premier League title last season. Dzeko, on the other hand, was a necessity. City do not attack in sufficient numbers. They require a target man, a forward of poise, technique and grace, to allow an often pedestrian midfield (David Silva and Yaya Toure notwithstanding) to support the forwards.
Chelsea’s signing smacks of short-term desperation to revive a flagging season and long-term need to replace Drogba. Dzeko is a more pragmatic arrival, one which may hand City the initiative over Chelsea and Arsenal as they pursue Manchester United at the top of the table. An intriguing finale to the season awaits.