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WWI's impact on Manchester City

Manchester City Nov 10, 2014
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 By David Mooney
Jul 21, 2014

Negredo's injury worsened by timing

The ESPN FC panel weighs in on the Premier League odds and debates which team will win the league.

When it comes to getting the perfect preparation for the coming campaign, a good summer's rest and an active part in the whole of preseason is vital.

It's no coincidence that, for example, Manchester City's Matija Nastasic had a difficult season with the Blues after an injury on the club's tour of Asia in 2013, while a problem for Martin Demichelis when he arrived meant that he took a long time to settle.

Now Manuel Pellegrini must be tearing his hair out with Alvaro Negredo.

Everything had been in place for the Spaniard to return to his early 2013 form, but news of a broken foot bone has made City fans' hearts sink. Injuries are never welcome, but there are certainly better times than others to pick them up -- and right now Negredo couldn't have had worse luck.

From a purely selfish point of view, the summer had been going perfectly for Pellegrini with regard to his No. 9. Negredo had not had the stress and strain of having to travel to Brazil for the World Cup (though Spain did make an unexpectedly early exit), and he had time to rest up following a hectic end of the season for City.

It was pretty clear something was wrong following the injury he sustained in the Capital One Cup semifinal second leg with West Ham. Negredo scored twice that evening in January but didn't net a single goal after that. And that's despite several good chances in his final 16 appearance, one of them gilt-edged. Granted, most of those displays came from the bench, but he was still getting the chances.

To say Negredo's form nosedived after that West Ham game is a bit like saying Vincent van Gogh did a bit of doodling; it was scary how woefully out of confidence he was looking. At the height of his debut season and partnership with Sergio Aguero, Negredo was slotting home one-on-ones with his eyes closed. Come the penultimate game of the season, he missed two by firing weakly and straight at Brad Guzan in the Aston Villa goal.

Then there was the home game with Fulham, where he should have made it 6-0 from roughly 50 centimetres out but shot wide.

However, it's clearly not his ability that's in question. He made a flying start to his City career, scoring twice in his first three games. It should have been three but for an incorrect offside flag on his debut against Newcastle. He had two goals for the club before he'd even started a game.

Over the autumn, his partnership with Aguero blossomed to the point where the Spaniard went on a run of eight goals in seven games -- including bagging the club's first-ever Champions League hat trick, and a perfect one at that.

Negredo finished the season a shell of that striker.

The result of his current injury situation leaves the Blues with a predicament. Both Aguero and Stevan Jovetic are injury prone, with neither able to get a sustained spell in the first team last season due to niggles and knocks. Should either join Negredo in the treatment room, it will put a lot of pressure on Edin Dzeko to perform. While that may not be an issue given that the Bosnian ended 2013-14 as the form striker, it could present problems if Dzeko starts the season on one of his barren runs.

Pellegrini may opt to bring in a short-term replacement for the injured striker on a few months' loan. Although, with John Guidetti back at the club and not having a loan move sorted, the Chilean may keep the Swedish forward as a backup option -- especially after being interested in taking him to Malaga when in his previous job. That said, it does feel like the ship has sailed for him at City. If he were to get his chance, then it would probably have happened by now.

Some would also argue that City had pretty much been playing without Negredo for the latter half of last season given his form, so little has changed for the start of the new campaign.

With Aguero returning from his World Cup injury and Jovetic seemingly over his problems from his debut year, even with Negredo sidelined there may be little in the way of opportunities for a loan signing or a youngster.

The problem the Blues will face with Negredo's broken foot is more likely going to be the knock-on effect of the striker missing the preseason rather than finding themselves light on striking options.

David Mooney

David Mooney is a writer and a radio journalist based in Manchester. He is currently writing for ESPN FC and has written three books on Manchester City. He is also the news editor on 104.9 Imagine FM and hosts the BlueMoon Podcast. You can follow him on twitter: @DavidMooney