Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


'Rodri thinks he's Pirlo!' | Where are Manchester City falling short?

As Manchester City lick their wounds after a humbling 5-2 home defeat to Leicester City, Kenny Cu...

As Manchester City lick their wounds after a humbling 5-2 home defeat to Leicester City, Kenny Cunningham spoke about where they can improve.

Pep Guardiola is rumoured to be close to signing centre-half Ruben Dias from Benfica for £50m, but Cunningham told Off The Ball that he thinks problems lie elsewhere.


"He is deluding himself if he thinks that the answer to his problems is getting another centre-back in," Cunningham said of the City manager.

"The partnership of [Dias] and Laporte may come together and be very strong, but even that is not the answer. Because what I saw today was shambolic from a defensive point of view.

"They spent £60m on Rodri as the natural replacement for Fernandinho. The plan appears to be to ease out Fernandinho over the next year or two and bring Rodri in as this defensive lynchpin.

"This fella must look in the mirror and think he's Andrea Pirlo! He is 6ft4in, has broad shoulders and looks like an absolute machine in there.

"But it looks as if he wants to be a playmaker, he was throwing shapes and step-overs in the second half and getting ahead of the ball. But when he was asked to get tight to somebody, make a tackle or track a run, he didn't do it.

"They can't rely on Fernandinho because he is losing the juice in his legs, but I would still have him in that team ahead of Rodri."

Manchester City

The blame for their defensive solidity can be squarely laid at the door of Guardiola, according to Cunningham.

"I have no qualms saying that this is what has held them back, there are reasons why he has not won the Champions League while he has been at the club.

"They have to get a balance between commitment to a certain attacking style but not forgetting that you are going to have to defend for periods of the game as well, particularly against the very best teams at the top level.

"Another issue has been their intensity levels when they try to regain the ball, the drop-off there was a factor last season and I thought they would get back to that this season.

"But they laboured against Leicester, once they got past the initial press they found it hard to recover heads were down. Rodri, De Bruyne and Mahrez - that would be a massive worry for me in terms of their application."

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Cunningham Kenny Cunningham Man City Manchester City Rodri