With Manchester City FC set to compete against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Herbalife World Football Challenge on Monday, July 18, on Bell Pitch at Empire Field, whitecapsfc.com takes a look at the defenders in today’s City breakdown. In part three of the six-part series on 'The Citizens', we take a closer look at the men who serve and protect goalkeeper Joe Hart and who will aim to keep Whitecaps FC off the scoresheet.
Manchester City’s defence in the English Premier League (EPL) is a group that collectively understands the art of defending. That said, they also take on the responsibility of igniting City’s offence through overlapping runs with the concept of opening up angles to generate opportunities. This combination has resulted in one of soccer’s most feared backlines.
Coming off a fabulous 2010-11 EPL campaign which saw 'The Blues' finish third in the table behind Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC, City’s primary reason for their outstanding record of 21W-9L-8D was credited to their backline that conceded a league-best 33 goals in 38 matches. With efforts that instilled a defeatist attitude into opponents, City’s ‘defence first’ model helped spark their attack to a 60-goal outburst last season.
Headlining City’s depth chart against Whitecaps FC is Frenchman Gaël Clichy. The 25-year-old left fullback recently joined Manchester City FC on July 4, 2011, after a transfer from Arsenal FC. During his time with ‘The Gunners’, Clichy featured in 264 appearances and captured a 2003-04 English Premier League title, alongside the 2004 English FA Community Shield and 2005 English FA Cup titles. In that time, Clichy totalled two goals and ten assists, while also making 10 appearances with the French national team.
Also on City’s squad is defender Vincent Kompany. Kompany has spent the past three seasons with City and has become a leader for the squad. The Belgian international is regularly a vice-captain on the team, but is a candidate to be named the main captain for the coming season. In total, Kompany has appeared in 127 matches, scoring three goals and adding five assists, and is a crucial part of their backline. He will be accompanied by long-time City defender and English national team member Micah Richards. Richards, who has been with the squad since 2009, has featured in 186 appearances and is a highly-regarded figure with the club’s fan base. Interestingly enough, Richards is also a cousin of Whitecaps FC striker Atiba Harris.
Joining Clichy, Kompany, and Richards are two other players who have excelled with their respective national teams: Joleon Lescott and Aleksandar Kolarov. Lescott is an English international and life-long EPL defender who has played for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton, and now Manchester City since 2009, making 61 appearances for The Blues. Kolarov is a 25-year-old Serbian international who came to City last year after three excellent seasons with Italian Serie A club Lazio. In 37 appearances with City, he scored three goals. The rising defender featured heavily in City’s 2011 English FA Cup run, where he played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 victory of Stoke City FC. With 21 caps playing for the Serbian national team, Kolarov’s international career has also blossomed since the 2007 UEFA European U-21 Championship, where he powered his Serbian side to the final, scoring a vital free kick against Belgium in the semifinal to lead his team to a second-place finish.
Rounding out the backline will be three young prospects of City’s future, defenders that have travelled very different paths to reach ‘The Blues’ roster. Dedryck Boyata, a 20-year-old centre back, joined ‘The Citizens’ in 2009 and has recorded one goal in 23 appearances in two seasons. Like Kompany, Boyata hails from Belgium and is seen as one of the cornerstones for City’s future backline after developing through their youth system. The youngster captured the 2008 English FA Youth Cup against Chelsea FC in his final season with the youth team before being promoted to the first team and helping City claimed the 2010-11 English FA Cup. The other half of City’s future backline comes to Manchester after a transfer on July 6, 2011, from Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade. Stefan Savić, a 20-year-old Serbian centre back, joins City after playing 28 matches in 2010 with Partizan, recording one goal. Savić has been a consistent national team player for Montenegro’s youth and senior squads and will be making his City debut in the World Football Challenge. Veseli, meanwhile, is an 18-year-old Swiss prospect, who has been with the club since 2008. The young defender has played for Switzerland at the youth level and is now looking to break onto his country's senior national team.
Manager Roberto Mancini’s troops should be well rested after a busy 2010-11 campaign, and they will be looking to further their strengths at the backend of the pitch and continue their march towards the top of the EPL. With only a month of preparation and training remaining before the new season starts, Manchester City FC will hope to be well tested, as they take on Whitecaps FC on Monday night.
On Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m. PT, Vancouver Whitecaps FC host this year’s English FA Cup winners, Manchester City FC, in an international friendly match as part of this year's Herbalife World Football Challenge. Fans can purchase tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.866.646.2277).