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Manchester City vs. Liverpool

50-50 Challenge 3 days ago
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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 4 days ago
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Jun 9, 2014

Cult hero Demichelis

Martin Demichelis overcame a shaky start to impress for Manchester City in their title winning campaign.

It's not been a quiet first season in Manchester for Martin Demichelis. He's been injured, vilified, out-paced, clumsy, positionally unaware, error-prone, solid, dependable and brave all rolled into one. That's also not forgetting a couple of beautiful tap-ins and a cracking ponytail hairstyle. We'll come to that later on.

Fans were willing to give him a chance upon his arrival at the club. He was a back-up option to both Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic as to who would partner Vincent Kompany in the back four but following an injury crisis, he was required to step in and prove himself.

So how did the Argentine introduce himself to the fans? He made himself unavailable by suffering an injury in his first training session, meaning his arrival seemed completely pointless. Not to Manuel Pellegrini, though. No, the manager knew what he was getting.

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By the time Demichelis had worked his way into the team, there were, let's say, more than a few doubts about his ability. He seemed to dive into challenges too easily and his first touch put some clearances to shame.

Pundit Alan Hansen laid into the number 26 in a Match of the Day broadcast back in December after City had won 4-2 at Fulham but hadn't looked defensively solid. For the most part, though, the fans dug their heels in and backed their man even if the Liverpool legend's points about Demichelis diving in high up the pitch held some merit.

However over the course of the next few months, the supporters moved closer to Hansen's thinking until it culminated in two penalty concessions in two cup games, both of which did little for City's chances of progressing past Barcelona or Wigan in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively.

And it was at this point in Demichelis' City career the majority of the fans gave up on him. He'd been in the team as a regular for almost every game since his initial injury and there was little sign of improvement -- and to many, the fact the manager kept picking him ahead of other options was beginning to grate. Pellegrini clearly saw something the fans in the stands didn't.

So just when it seemed there was no way back, Demichelis turned in a fine display during a critical 2-0 win at Hull City. After being reduced to 10 men early on, City rallied and the three points went a long way in winning the title.

Kompany had taken on the clumsy mantle and introduced his hand to Nikica Jelavic's shirt when he was clean through on goal after barely 10 minutes.

The visiting fans feared the worst when the defensive pairing was Javi Garcia and Demichelis but they need not have worried. With the Argentine's leadership, the Blues executed a perfect offside trap and closed out the game with relative ease. It was scary how precise the alignment of the back four was -- even when the home side's strikers knew what was going to happen, it was so well worked they were caught beyond the penultimate man.

That victory provided the springboard for City to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and deal with elimination from the FA Cup and Champions League. And it was all thanks to an Argentine defender.

By the final game of the season, Demichelis had secured his cult hero status. Partly due to his sudden transformation into a man who had settled into the team but mainly due to his one-man mission to bring the ponytail back into fashion. It was all set in stone the moment he ran the length of the South Stand with the Premier League trophy aloft, cheered on by the thousands of fans behind the goal.

He was at the height of popularity among the supporters, who had created at least two chants about him that involved some sort of appreciation of his hairstyle.

Not one to shirk a challenge, the defender is likely going to have to win all of those Blues over once again because in preparation for the World Cup, the Argentina international went and chopped it off.

Let's just hope it's no Sampson and Delilah story.