What David Pizarro brings to Manchester City and what it means for Owen Hargreaves
The only Italian journalist who managed to collar Roberto Mancini before Manchester City’s game at Everton last night asked him what the real story was behind the decision to take a veteran 32-year-old midfielder, David Pizarro, on a free loan from Roma until May. “He’s a big player,” Mancini replied, enigmatically.
The City manager seems to have meant that Pizarro is a player who can have a major impact on games and judging by the way Mancini once redefined his role as a midfielder when they worked together at Internazionale, the impact he seeks is from a regista – one who operates from deep. But Mancini also seeks one who can also provide some of the creativity from that position which City lack. The Chilean can bring both dimensions to the role.
The suggestion that a creative holding midfielder is what City lacked in the Champions League was argued effectively by @zonalmarking when they were put out of Europe. Here’s one of several great pieces. Mancini thought he might have found his regista last summer languishing close to exit from football at Old Trafford, in the shape of another thirty-something: Owen Hargreaves. But he’s still waiting for him to rediscover the requisite fitness. The plan had always been that Hargreaves would be ready for combat by January – with Yaya Toure away at the African Cup of Nations – but in the month just gone he played just eight minutes of football, in the FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford. It’s difficult to tell if Mancini is losing patience, because to the vague impression that he is one must factor in the potential of his words to get lost in translation. “I hope he can be ready to play one game but it depends on him. He is not Yaya at this moment,” Mancini said of Hargreaves at the start of last month.
Nigel de Jong is another player for whom Pizarro’s arrival does no favours, with Mancini coming around to the view that his City days are numbered. It’s been known for several months that club and player may part ways. In early December, it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that City would seek a buyer.
Of course, de Jong does offer strength in front of defence, but there is not enough of a creative impulse. Hence Mancini’s indecision about him in Europe – leaving him out in Munich, hastily reinstating him there after 55 minutes (that’s what caused all the fuss with Carlos Tevez, who thought he should be going on). He was selected once again in Naples but the first man to be withdrawn when a flaccid, static City looked in need of creativity.
Pizarro, the Chilean whose diminutive stature has led the Italians to know him as pek, short for pequeno, began his midfield life as a traditional number 10 and it was in this role that he operated in his early 20s at Udinese. But Mancini redeployed him as a defensive midfielder when he signed him at Internazionale in 2005 and is likely to create a similar role for him in Manchester. The 32-year-old, who will wear City’s number 8 jersey, is expected to give voice to his thoughts on life at his new club this afternoon. As he does so, Mancini will no doubt be agonising over how Gareth Barry’s failure to shape up to Darron Gibson at Everton – described so effectively in Gary Neville’s post match analysis – contributed to defeat. Yaya Toure, who is eight and a half inches taller than Pizarro, will soon be back but size doesn’t matter where an effective holding midfielder is concerned. Small stature, big role, sums up what lies ahead for pek.Tagged in: David Pizarro, football, Manchester City, Owen Hargreaves, Premier League
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