City’s results have taken them into the Champions League places with eight games left to play, but with only 45 goals this season – only one more than 16th placed West Bromwich Albion – they have the fewest of the top four. Of those 45, over a third were scored by Carlos Tevez, who leads City’s goal-scoring charts with 18 league goals. The Argentine’s colleagues, however, have not found the net as prolifically.
As Emmanuel Adebayor left to join Real Madrid until the end of the season, he became one of three senior City strikers out on loan. With Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa Cruz also deemed surplus to requirements this season, Mancini was left with four senior forwards at his disposal. While Tevez leads the way in terms of goals, only one of the remaining three forwards – Mario Balotelli – has managed to find the net, with six goals. The two remaining strikers, Jo and January signing Edin Dzeko, have yet to score in a Premier League game this season.
As the summer approaches, various media outlets will undoubtedly link Manchester City with a host of high-profile players from across the world, including big-name centre-forwards. However, the solution could already lie within their squad. Frustrated with life on the fringes at Eastlands, the three senior forwards currently out on loan contributed 26 goals to City’s league campaign in 2009/10, in addition to the 23 scored by Tevez. While these figures would continue to suggest that Tevez contributes massively to City’s productivity in front of goal, the option of reintroducing experienced Premier League forwards could prove invaluable.
As Roberto Mancini, his backroom staff and the board begin to look ahead to next season, there are a number of options to improve the strike force going forward. Jo, Balotelli and Dzeko undoubtedly hold the potential to score goals, and City fans will particularly hope Balotelli and Dzeko, who continue to settle into life in Manchester, will recreate the form that first attracted the interest of their new employers. Mancini may also consider the other loanee forwards available to him, as well as youngster Felipe Caicedo, currently on loan at Spanish outfit Levante.
Should neither solution offer a satisfactory solution for Mancini, football clubs may well brace themselves for another wave of heavy spending in the blue half of Manchester, but one thing is for certain – City are certainly spoilt for choice.