Tuesday Team Talk: Manchester City will win Premier League now Manuel Pellegrini has learned to adapt

By Alex Lanigan

There is nothing worse in football seeing your side concede a last minute goal and watching helplessly as jubilation sweeps across the faces of rival supporters.

While a collective groan could be heard across the blue side of Manchester as Fernando Torres capitalised on City’s late defensive calamity there was still cause for optimism.

The match may have been lost in the worst way possible but in the grander scheme of things Pellegrini showed fans that he has a priceless attribute that will assist them in their quest for glory – adaptability.

Tactically City have been relatively predictable this season. Whether you call it a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-2-2-2 is irrelevant the principle is the same: Pellegrini favours fielding two of his strikers.

In some ways seeing a manager field two strikers is refreshing in an era where the emphasis is on winning the battle in the middle of the park.

However, to be champions every team needs a pinch of pragmatism.

Prior to Sunday’s clash with Chelsea it appeared that Pellegrini was either too stubborn or too stupid to recognize that there are cases where flooding the midfield is crucial to success.

Yet when the Chilean announced his line-up on Sunday there was, at last, some variety.

The selection of Aguero as a lone front-man showed that, while Pellegrini might not be the pragmatist that Mourinho is, he recognises the importance of picking up points against your title rivals.

His midfield trio of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, and Javi Garcia allowed City to wrestle control of possession and, up until a monumental blunder, Pellegrini looked like he would leave Stamford Bridge with a point.

With the Citizens losing the game against Chelsea, the decision to drop an attacking option was going to draw criticism from the media with many seeing his move as a negative approach.

However, as Sir Alex Ferguson showed over the course of his tenure at Old Trafford, adaptability is key.

Ferguson was always willing to adapt the shape of his team in order to ensure his side came out on top.

Like Pellegrini, the Scot often favoured playing with two strikers. However, when United squared off against the bigger teams Ferguson was always ready to sacrifice a striker for an additional option in midfield.

With Pellegrini finally showing the kind of adaptability needed to succeed in the Premier League City fans can be optimistic that their side will be the one lifting the trophy in May.

City’s performance at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by another mistake from Joe Hart but more needs to be made of the fact they won the possession battle away from home against a title rival.

While Moyes and Mourinho have set-in-stone styles, Pellegrini has been the first to radically alter the shape of his side.

This alteration may have drawn criticism but the fact remains that it was a single individual error that cost City a point at the Bridge.

There is no doubt that Pellegrini will revert back to his two-pronged strikeforce but he has shown that he has the foresight to change shape when needed and, ultimately, this is what will set the Blues apart from their rivals at the end of the season.

Image courtesy of MCFC Official via YouTube, with thanks

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