THE BLOG

Manchester City's Summer Signings: Success or Failure?

06/01/2014 17:51 GMT | Updated 08/03/2014 10:59 GMT

The January transfer window is open, tiresome rumours abound of possible incomings and outgoings and Twitter will no doubt soon be awash with tedious accounts proclaiming they have inside knowledge of every deal.

Instead of looking to the future, however, it's a good time to assess how Manchester City's five summer signings have settled in thus far. The quintet of Martin Demichelis, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo all joined the Blues and have played some role in driving City towards the top of the table, but how has each one adapted to the club? Let's take a look.

Starting in defence, Demichelis arrived from Atletico Madrid, despite only having spent two months in the capital after signing from Malaga. He was someone known to Manuel Pellegrini, the pair having been at Malaga together, and the Chilean was happy to acquire the experienced centre-back to provide cover for Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic. That cover, due to a series of injuries, has been needed.

Many were sceptical about his signing and it didn't take long to realise Demichelis wasn't blessed with pace, but you don't play over 200 times for Bayern Munich and Argentina without having something about you. And Demichelis has plenty of qualities to admire. His reading of the game, as befits someone of his age, is superb, enabling him to anticipate danger ahead of others. His positional awareness and knowledge of when to push forward and stick tight to an attacker or when to just drop off and protect the box is impressive, and it means that he's very rarely in a one-on-one situation where his lack of pace can be exploited.

On the ball, unlike other centre-backs, he always looks for a positive, meaningful pass. As such, he pushes us forward from the back and with both Kompany and Nastasic missing hefty chunks of the season through injury, his acumen and leadership has been required. He won't receive many plaudits as attention has understandably been focused on our more exciting, attacking stars but his presence in defence has already been important during the campaign and he'll continue to be a useful squad member.

Just ahead of him, Fernandinho is arguably the pick of the new arrivals. He is in the midst of a magnificent debut season for the Blues and as he continues to adapt, he'll only improve. That's a frightening proposition for opposition midfielders. Yet, for the first month or so, there were concerns about him. The most frequent criticism related to how lightweight he was, often brushed off the ball and unable to win it back. He had a tendency to commit to a tackle too easily, leaving large amounts of space behind him as he frantically tried to recover. But that all seems so long ago, such has been the impact he has made since then.

Now, he's almost the complete midfielder. He tackles, he passes, he intercepts, he covers, he darts, he drives, he scores, he runs and he runs some more. Without doubt, he is the engine of the side. He adds dynamism and purpose to a unit which lacked those qualities last season, and although he is overrun at times in the centre due to Yaya Touré refusal to track runners, he has been one of the standout performers from the first half of the season. His brace of goals against Arsenal made outsiders aware of what he can do when given the opportunity to roam forward, but those who watch him every week understand his importance to this City side. Even when others have been rested in cup competitions, he has been deployed to add efficiency and fluency. He's indefatigable, he's immense and how he's not in Brazil's World Cup squad is staggering.

On the wing, Jesus Navas is another who started slowly but has grown over the past couple of months and is now displaying consistent quality. There has been no mention of the homesickness issues which prevented him from moving abroad earlier in his career and he has seemingly adapted well to Manchester, no doubt helped by the presence of his brother who signed in the summer for Bury.

In his early appearances, he was dangerous but inconsistent and defenders quickly realised they could negate much of his threat by forcing him inside onto his left foot, from where he'd have to turn in an ever-increasing circle before passing the ball backwards. However, he is now more comfortable when drifting off the wing and is happy to move all over the front line to influence play. That said, he's at his best when stationed on the right and attacking his fullback, and his ability to beat a man from a standing start and create space for a cross is remarkable. At times, he could be even more direct although Pablo Zabaleta does, on occasions, limit his space with constant bursts forward, but Navas has added much-needed pace and variety to our attacking endeavours. He's not afraid to work defensively, too. What is clear is that he's a top quality player and another who will only improve with time.

It is much more difficult to write about Stevan Jovetic. He has started just three games for the club, one of which he was substituted in after ten minutes, as he has been riddled by a series of niggling injuries. Every time he has been on the verge of recovery, he breaks down once again. It's frustrating for the fans, who would love to see him in action, and it must be incredibly exasperating for himself as he looks to make an impression at a new club. Comments from Pellegrini recently hinted at Jovetic self-diagnosing, rather than doctors being able to find something wrong with him, and that leads to questions of mental frailty, but we can only hope he's back quickly and can start to impose his intelligence on the side.

The final summer acquisition was Alvaro Negredo, acclaimed 'The Beast' by fans who have been hugely impressed by the speed with which he has adapted. Alongside Sergio Aguero, he has formed the perfect partnership. He's physical, aggressive and likes to bully defenders, and he combines those strengths with a delicate touch, vision and a selfless work ethic. If that seems over the top, it really isn't. Watch him in tandem with Aguero and you'll see two players dovetailing magically, both talented individuals but raised to another level by the other.

It's hard to pick out one highlight from Negredo's season so far, such has been his consistent contribution. He scores simple goals and tougher ones, against weaker teams and better ones. He must be a nightmare to defend against with his constant movement and intense pressing, but those same qualities make him the ideal teammate. He has the uncanny ability bring the best out of those around him.

Looking back over those five acquisitions, it is evident that City's dealings in the summer were an overwhelming success. Jovetic aside, the others have all slotted in seamlessly, adding leadership, goals, excitement and energy to the side and helping guide City to a ominously-placed second position. As the Blues compete on four fronts, these players will be at the heart of the push for silverware. And should they continue their early-campaign form, Manuel Pellegrini may well be lifting trophies aplenty come the end of the season.