With Edin Dzeko, the big Bosnian, having now been at Manchester City for two-and-a-half years, he has divided opinion among fans on many occasions during that time. Some believe he doesn’t possess the quality to turn out in the blue shirt, whilst some believe he was just misused under Roberto Mancini, not fitting the style that the Blues were playing under the Italian. However, this does raise the question as to whether he should have been purchased in the first place.
I knew very little about the striker when he was first signed from Wolfsburg back in the January 2011 transfer window, for a fee of around £27m, but his stats in the Bundesliga did look good. He scored 85 goals in just 142 games for Wolfsburg, and helped Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title in the 2008-09 season, before topping the scoring charts in the following campaign.
These stats showed much promise for one of the up-and-coming teams in the Premier League at the time, with City hoping to secure Champions League football for the first time in the season he joined. He went on to score 6 goals before the end of the campaign, including a couple of very vital ones, such as at Notts County and at Blackburn Rovers, helping City to secure both third place in the league and the FA Cup at Wembley.
The 2011-12 campaign was perhaps Dzeko’s best in a City shirt so far. He rocketed out of the blocks with six goals in the first three games, including a spectacular four in a 5-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur. He then slowed down quite dramatically, however did finish with 14 goals in the league, and 19 overall as City dramatically won the Premier League title on the final day.
This past season, 2012-13, is the one in which Dzeko has received the most criticism from City supporters, mostly due to his inconsistent performances, despite scoring a number of vital goals of the bench, and finishing as top scorer for the Blues in a trophyless campaign. Although I sympathize with the fans that Dzeko’s performances at times weren’t good enough, he is a lot better than people give him credit for, and this needs to be acknowledged.
The main reason Dzeko struggled to play in the way Mancini wanted his team to play is that he simply isn’t that style of player. Whereas Mancini wanted to play the ball mainly on the ground, working the ball into the box, Dzeko is always looking for the cross, and to head the ball in. He lacks an ability to pass to the level of some of the other players in the City squad, and his physical shape doesn’t really suit the ones littered through the rest of the squad.
I believe this will be different under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, especially with newly-purchased winger Jesus Navas running down the wing and crossing to the huge Bosnian to his full ability. This will allow Dzeko to play in a way that suits him, as well as the rest of the team too. If Dzeko is allowed to play this way, we could see a drastic improvement in performances from the 27-year-old, and once we utilise his talent properly, it could be a huge benefit to a City side that struggled for goals at times last season.
I think another thing that didn’t help Dzeko in the Mancini era is that he wasn’t managed well by Mancini in terms of mentality, not just tactically. I think Dzeko is at his very best on a run of playing games, as it allows his confidence to sky-rocket, and reach his full level of ability. For example, after he scored four at White Hart Lane, he was then dropped to the bench for a few games, which can’t have felt good given the form he had been in. I think had Mancini managed his mentality better, we would have got a lot more from him, and we may have seen him repeat the fantastic statistics we saw with his previous club, Wolfsburg.
This wass demonstrated on several occasions last season, in which Dzeko was mainly used as a substitute, despite scoring important goals throughout. Take the away game at West Bromwich Albion for example. With City down to ten men and a goal down thanks to Shane Long, Mancini brought on striker Dzeko who then proceeded to score two late goals to complete the comeback, including an injury time winner. He also scored late winners after appearing as a substitute against both Fulham, and Spurs in the first half of the season. Mancini eventually took the hint and started playing him from the start, but I feel if he had noticed the impact he was having earlier on, last season could have been a different story.
You really can’t undervalue Dzeko’s performance last season. I accept that at times he was inconsistent at best, but he still managed to score more than Sergio Aguero or Carlos Tevez did in the blue shirt, who both started a lot more games than the Bosnian. This shows how much better he was in terms of goals-to-games and had he been given the chance to prove how good he was on more occasions, he could have had a bigger effect, maybe even leading City to some silverware, which they missed out on last season.
After a season of not starting many games for the Blues, Dzeko has been linked with a move away from the Etihad this summer, with both Borussia Dortmund and Napoli reportedly interested. They are both now in the market for a new striker too, with Robert Lewandowski set to leave Dortmund next summer to join Bayern Munich, and Edinson Cavani having recently completed a move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain for a deal of around £54m from Napoli, meaning they are in need of a new striker. If Dzeko could replicate the goal-scoring form he had at Wolfsburg, he could prove to be a shrewd purchase for both clubs.
One thing that needs to happen to allow Dzeko to recapture his previous form is that the fans need to get behind him. As I said earlier, Dzeko is a player that is built on confidence, so having the fans off his back will certainly help him feel more confident, and thus play better in the blue shirt. He also needs to be given more chances to start games, and also a run of games in the side, building up his confidence to get the old Edin back. He still has a lot of time left to prove his worth to City fans, but I get the feeling this could be a big year for him, as he tries to make a good first impression on Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini.