Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Indeed A Footballing Puzzler: Charting The Journey Of This Serial Manchester City Survivor

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

Manchester City, who have emerged as European heavyweights following hefty investment in recent years, brought in loads of top-notch footballers as well as high profile managers who guided them to rise on top of English football as well as establishing them as a regular attendee in Champions League – the most elite club competition in Europe.

Several stars in world football, however, struggled to settle in for the Citizens and failed to grab a long-term place in their star-studded squad. But the journey of Aleksandar Kolarov is quite exceptional if compared to other names who joined them since the Abu Dhabi era. 

The Serbian international never fully convinced the fans nor the managers with his performance since his arrival back in 2010, yet, the defender managed to retain his place in the team under the likes of Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and now Pep Guardiola for past seven successful campaigns of club’s history.

Kolarov, now 31, joined the Sky Blues for a fee around £16 mil from Lazio following three successful campaigns with the Serie A outfit. He soon became a regular in his usual left-back role under Roberto Mancini and played a crucial role in City’s 2010-11 FA Cup winning campaign.

But the Serbian was not convincing enough from defensive perspectives and the high profile signing of French international Gael Clichy in summer 2011 made his league appearances limited to 12 outings in their dramatic 2011-12 Premier League triumph over arch rivals Manchester United.

It was thought to be the end of his short span with Manchester City, however, the Serbian rejected a move and decided to fight for a more regular place in an extremely adverse scenario.

Following the departure of Mancini, Kolarov impressed the newly appointed boss Manuel Pellegrini with his performance during City’s pre-season and earned a starting place in their 2013-14 Premier League title-winning campaign.

The consecutive injury concerns of Gael Clichy helped him cement his place for the time being. The Serbian international, however, lost his spot from the next campaign and was being rotated with Clichy as the ex-Arsenal left back held a solid reputation for his experience for Les Bleus as well as in Premier League football. But Kolarov stood up to the challenge once more and reformed his style of play to suit in with Pep Guardiola’s system.

The Spaniard, who had high reputation and success rate with Barcelona and Bayern Munich previously, joined the Citizen’s during previous summer in order to reconquer the Premier League title and streamline their Champions League fortunes in long run. Kolarov, who does not exactly fit in Pep’s ball playing defensive strategy, was close to departing prior to the previous campaign.

But he again impressed the gaffer in a change of role and deputised perfectly as a makeshift centre-back appearing 38 times in all competitions.

Kolarov, whose contract runs out next summer, has not been offered a new deal by the Spaniard. But the underrated Serbian is not demoralised at all and upbeat once more in order to fight for his place despite talks of high-profile inclusions who are tipped to replace him in the upcoming campaign.

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