Manchester City’s record signing Riyad Marez hasn’t had the rub of the green in his opening campaign with the Citizens, but is it too late to turn things around?
Although Mahrez is a class player, there can be no doubt about that but he keeps on struggling with the team tactics so far this season.
For Riyad Mahrez, however, who left Leicester City for Manchester City in a £60 million move in the summer, this has not been the case and man City supporters’ expectations are not impressed with his performances.
Pep Guardiola first attempted to sign the Algerian in last year’s winter window, the champions waited six months before finally seeing the deal through in the summer, but that hasn’t translated to ample game time for the winger.
In all fairness, the wide man’s unique situation is a consequence of the array of talent at City.
Any team that, more or less, has two available players for every position will definitely not be easy to break into – irrespective of the amount splurged on a fresh face.
Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane were the principal starters in the wide positions for the rampant champions, scoring 18 and 10 goals respectively in the league, while recording double figures in assists with 11 and 15 respectively.
Bernado Silva, understandably, initially struggled in a new league after signing from Ligue 1 champions AS Monaco, and could only return six goals and four assists in his first year. His integration at the club wasn’t helped by the fact he had to fill in at two roles: in attacking midfield as well as on the wings as a wide playmaker.
Bernardo’s work rate, as always, was incredible, and his touch and movement impeccable.
Mahrez last started a league game for the defending champions in a 3-1 success at Southampton before the turn of the year, and hasn’t featured in five of their last seven top-flight games, meaning he’s been mainly restricted to cup appearances since December.
In that time, he’s scored three times in five games, which has taken his goals total and assists for the season to 10 apiece. While those numbers aren’t bad for any player in his first campaign at a new club, whilst playing under considerably different tactics than he’s used to, it doesn’t compare favourably to his teammates.
Pep Guardiola had his say last week – he has sympathy for Mahrez, feeling that the Algeria international needs a run of games to reach the same level as the rest of the wide attacking players.
His problem, and therefore Mahrez’s problem, is that he cannot afford to give him a run of games.
Sterling is in a hot streak at the moment and is clearly buzzing from his winning shoot-out strike at Wembley – he was as direct, urgent and deadly as Bernardo.
With Sterling on one wing and Bernardo on the other, City were a more fearsome proposition.
Much more of this and rotation will become a more problematic issue and Guardiola will have to lean more heavily on his form wide men.
The Algeria superstar hasn’t had the rub of the green in his opening campaign with the Citizens, but is it too late to turn things around?
Particularly when the suitors have had to wait an extended period to get their man, it’s normal to expect that the new recruit will get consistent playing time.
Meanwhile let’s expect more from him before the ending of the season if he can add more solutions to Manchester City problems in up front.