For years, Manchester City have been tagged by everybody as having the biggest and best squad in the Premier League. That is not the case anymore though, as this season continues to prove.
Ever since City captured the Premier League crown, back in the 2011-12 season, the squad has been in decline. The starting 11 remains strong and it’s probably still the best starting 11 in the Premier League. The backup players though, as well as a select few of the starters, are just not meeting the standards that the club or the fans have come to expect.
Joe Hart has improved after an unbelievably bad start to the season, but must still be wondering with potentially both Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas on the transfer market this summer, whether his position is as safe as it has been in previous years. His backup Costel Pantilimon has done okay when selected, but never seems to be too far away from a costly mistake.
In defense, there are numerous changes that should take place. Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta are the only two defenders who can be totally assured that they will be at the club next season. Every other defender in the squad is at risk, and based on performances, rightly so. Micah Richards has been a loyal servant to the club and is loved immensely by the fans, but apart from a horrific injury record, his displays when selected have been way below par.
At center-back, Martin Demichelis has had a torrid time since his arrival at the start of the season. At the age of 33, Demichelis is clearly past his prime, but he has too many lapses in concentration to be truly relied upon and nowhere near enough pace to make amends. The worrying part is that it is not only the big games where he is exposed!
Joleon Lescott is another player who lacks pace at this point in his career. His ability on the ball has always been questionable and with his contract finishing at the end of the season, you would expect this season to be his last at City.
At left-back, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov have done a role reversal this season. In previous years, Kolarov was always suspect and Clichy was always the safe pick. Now it has reversed, as Clichy has endured his worst season since he joined City, whereas Kolarov has enjoyed his best.
Kolarov is constantly a threat going forward with his persistent runs and fantastic crossing ability, but Clichy fails to offer anything in this regard. Worryingly for City fans, left-back continues to be a weak link in defensive situations, whether it’s Clichy or Kolarov who plays. One of them must leave to allow a new, first-choice left back to arrive ahead of next season.
In midfield, Javi Garcia has improved in the last few months, although he still has work to do in order to prove that he is at the level that is required. Jack Rodwell has been injured constantly all season and is surely a prime contender to leave in the summer. James Milner has played well when selected, but he is stuck between positions, and only has just over 12 months remaining on his current contract.
City are desperate for better quality backup in midfield because their lack of depth this year has meant that Yaya Toure and Fernandinho have had to play almost every game, which has afforded them very little rest for the big games.
Stevan Jovetic joined the club last summer amid much hype, but injuries have unfortunately curtailed his season. He will undoubtedly get another year to prove his class, but he cannot continue to be injured as routinely as he has been since he arrived.
Edin Dzeko is a player who polarizes the City fans. He has been rumored to be leaving the club in previous summers and this summer, after many lackluster displays this season, looks as if it may be the one where he finally does.
In every position, there are potential departures for the summer transfer market. Of course, City could still go on to win the Premier League or the Champions League this year, as well as already having the Capital One Cup safely in the trophy cabinet. They could end up having a good season. Though, for continued success, changes must be made.