Joe Hart – 8
I’ve always liked Joe Hart, but there’s always been that nagging feeling that he isn’t quite good enough to be in a world-class team. Anyway, when his stock is low, he always responds, and this season he has done just that. He hasn’t been perfect (what keeper is?), but there is no discussion of who the number one goalkeeper is at the club, which says it all. His distribution is still awful, but he has knuckled down and is a dependable guard behind the back four. Recent performances have been crucial in City’s good run, and the team were beginning to build up league clean sheets, crucial for any title push. However, a wobble over Xmas has seen him lose half a mark.
Willy Caballero – 4
Many would argue that Joe Hart is obviously the number one as the competition is as weak as ever. I say you’re all wrong. Having no life, I have watched plenty of La Liga games in recent years, and Caballero has been top class. The deal to bring him to City made perfect sense, seemed a bargain, and provided Joe Hart with real competition – in fact I am convinced that Pellegrini, knowing Caballero well, considered him as a possible future number 1 keeper. Anyway, that didn’t happen. Caballero has made a few appearances, hasn’t done very well (though not as disastrously as some seem to think, who have decided a keeper they have rarely seen before is rubbish). Caballero is a great keeper, but so far it has clearly not worked out. With goalkeepers rarely injured or suspended, he may be regretting his move.
Gael Clichy – 7
A month ago I probably would have given him a 5. There was no doubt in my mind that City needed to buy a top-class left-back, especially after dodgy performances against CSKA Moscow and at West Ham, and I think we still will next summer, but Clichy has really risen to the occasion in the last few weeks in the absence of Kolarov, and he even got a goal. With all the injuries City are carrying at the moment, his good form has been crucial, so I have scored him generously. I still don’t think he’s top class and doesn’t offer enough offensively, but right now he does alright by me.
Aleksander Kolarov – 6
The resurgence of Kolarov last season was one of the great surprises of recent years, but this season hasn’t really got going for him, not helped of course by an injury that has kept him out for many weeks. Back in the squad now, Clichy will need some rest over Xmas, so let’s hope we see the best of him again soon. Having said all that we saw a brilliant performance against Crystal Palace followed by an abomination against Burnley.
Vincent Kompany – 7
As I type, Kompany is on the verge of returning from the 74th injury of his career. The man known as the glass man at Hamburg is still prone to endless niggles, and so has never got a head of steam up this season. When he has played he has done many of the great things we expect of him, but there have also been aberrations. Not a perfect season so far.
Eliaquim Mangala – 7
A roller coaster ride for a player who has been ridiculed by many for not instantly living up to his large price tag. A brilliant debut was followed by a horror-show at Hull and nervy moments and aberrations persist, but with playing time he has slowly grown into his role, to the point that I am happy to see him in the team. There is still work to do, but sometimes players take time to settle into a new country, league and style of play. Then there was the “bull in a china shop” display against Burnley, but few came out of that game with praise.
Martin Demichelis – 8.5
For Managala, see Demichelis a year ago. Demichelis is the classic example of not making knee-jerk reactions about players and giving them a chance. Since his resurgence, Demichelis has become the consummate professional. An experienced, wise-head, he goes about his business effectively and calmly. A great purchase last season and an important part of the team.
Pablo Zabaleta – 7.5
I want to give him 10 because, well, he’s Pablo Zabaleta. However, it hasn’t been the best season for Zabaleta, with the odd off-colour performance, though he hasn’t been helped at times by not being supported down the right flank. Still, we saw in Rome what he brings to the team and what City means to him and what he means to us. He’s added goals to his game too in recent weeks, and there’s so much more to come from a club legend, including fatherhood it seems!
Bacary Sagna – 6.5
Sagna has not been bad as some have claimed, but has not really excelled either, though it is hard to as back-up. Good squad acquisition for free, but as an Arsenal player I remember him whipping in endless dangerous crosses, and we’ve seen little of that at City. Mostly solid, but nothing more so far.
Dedryck Boyata – 6.
Meh. Still here, because he’s homegrown. That’s all I’ve got.
Missing, presumed dead.
Scott Sinclair – 10
Hasn’t put a foot wrong when on the pitch.
James Milner – 8.5
I pray that the rumoured new contract is signed soon, because Milner has been reborn this season having been given sufficient playing time. You all know what he brings to the team, qualities clearly invisible to numb-skulled England fans, and has been an important cog in the team this season, a reliable, hard-working, honest player with no little amount of skill – and of course extremely versatile. We need him to stay.
Samir Nasri – 8.5
My thoughts about Samir Nasri mirror quite closely those of Joe Hart – I’ve always had a nagging doubt as to whether he was quite good enough. This season, I have thankfully had to eat my words. The day I write this, he set up the winner against Leicester, he has covered the huge whole left by David Silva’s injury, and of course was the key man in securing Champions League knockout stage qualification. Has quite simply been immense over recent months, and contributed more goals and assists than before too.
David Silva – 8
Again marked down a tad by simply being injured. Otherwise, you know the score – one of the most skilful players (if not the most skilful of all) I have had the honour to watch. If only he could shoot, he’d be untouchable, though he seems to manage it for Spain easily enough, and has thankfully made me eat some words in recent weeks, filling in the striker void with aplomb.
Yaya Toure – 7
It’s fair to say it’s been an eventful few months for last season’s main man. It needs repeating that he lost his younger brother in the summer, and you cannot calculate the devastating effect that can have on a person. In the early throes of the season, his performances were underwhelming, but he has certainly returned closer to the player we love in recent weeks. You still have to wonder if this is his last season at City, his desire to leave still there, but for now he is playing well, though not quite at his peak.
Frank Lampard – 8.5
Higher mark than those that have contributed more may seem illogical, but for his time on the pitch, his contribution is unmatched (with one exception). With no strikers on the pitch against Leicester, his contribution summed up what he has brought to City this season – far more than I could have imagined for a player in the twilight of his career. Six goals already For City and the intelligence, composure and sheer skill that he has possessed for well over a decade now is still there. Expect his loan period to be extended, as he wants to stay and we all want him to stay.
Fernandinho – 8.
Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup seemed to have had a lasting effect on Fernandinho. Like his midfield partner in crime Yaya Toure, he started the season sluggishly, and hasn’t always featured. However, in recent weeks we have seen the player of last season and he has been imperious. With Fernando picked against Leicester, you could see how much the team missed his energy.
Fernando – 6.5.
One of the few disappointing features of the season so far for me. Fernando is there to screen the defence, he will not be up and down the pitch, but he hasn’t really got going yet, especially considering the glowing reviews that accompanied his move north. He hasn’t been bad, but hasn’t imposed himself either – hopefully there’s plenty more to come.
Jesus Navas – 7
Raised eyebrows aplenty at the score no doubt, but I have no time for the whingers who cannot see what this player brings to the team. If he really was playing so badly week-in week-out as some claim, do you really think Pellegrini would keep picking him? Yes, he can really frustrate, and with his pace you’d hope he skinned his man a bit more, but he has contributed plenty, works back and helps the defence with little praise, and stretches the opposition and keeps their full-backs often pinned back. An important squad player.
Stevan Jovetic – 6.5
It won’t have surprised you to hear that Jovetic had picked up an injury prior to the Leicester game. The biggest disappointment of the season for me, with fitness I expected to see a top performer, but you get the feeling he has almost too hard in matches. Little flicks and threaded passes haven’t come off, and he is yet to really get going, like others. Seemingly injury-prone too, his stop-start time at City continues, though he has shown enough class whilst on the pitch to suggest he can still be a huge success at City.
Sergio Aguero – 9
Almost 9.5. Almost. Sergio Aguero is not perfect – he has his off-days, he can be selfish (like any great striker) and of course he can be injured. Not marked down like other injury-prone players as his was more recent, his performances this season have been, at times, world-class. The greatest striker I’ve seen in the shirt, he is simply world-class, and it’s such a shame he picked up yet another injury with many a scoring record under threat. Under a new contract too and apparently not a fan of warm weather, he could be here a lot longer than I had anticipated, especially as he wants to win the Champions League with us (insert your own joke).
Edin Dzeko – 6.
A season that hasn’t really got going for Dzeko, and having come back from injury, he has immediately injured himself again, which will mean no more football in 2014. We all know that he tends to come into his own in the business-end of the season, so let’s hope for better times ahead as he is currently in his infuriating period, though things have just gone against him really.
Not really fair to score a player with such little playing time, Pozo has somewhat been thrown to the wolves in recent weeks due to key injuries. Time will tell on him as he hasn’t been allowed to display his strengths in his best position.
Manuel Pellegrini – 8.5
Despite winning 2 trophies in his debut season, it seems that for some Manuel cannot win. Like last season, City got off to a sluggish start, and the manager received much criticism, some of it justified, for his stubbornness in sticking to a 4-4-2 formation. Anyway, City will not be retaining the Capital One Cup after a lame display at home to Newcastle, but City qualified out of their Champions League group (somehow) and are now back on the heels of league leaders Chelsea.