Roberto Mancini has an abundance of riches with Manchester City

Manchester City's manager has many options when considering his attacking configuration ahead of their Premier League opener with Swansea.
Sergio Aguero, right, will give Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, a variety of options in the attack.
Sergio Aguero, right, will give Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, a variety of options in the attack.

When Roberto Mancini considers his attacking configuration for Monday night's game against Swansea City, it is from a position of luxury.

The Manchester City manager has options in most departments, but progressive players have an ability to capture the imagination, and it is there that the attention will be focused.

For his sole striker, his pair of wingers and his attacking midfielder, the Italian can perm from Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure, Adam Johnson, David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson (and that is excluding the fringe player Shaun Wright-Phillips plus the unwanted Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa Cruz).

In the short term, as Tevez will not feature and Aguero is expected to be on the bench, Mancini could opt for continuity after the Community Shield.

Yet they are a £38 million (Dh226m) striker and the club's two-time top scorer, so decisions are merely being postponed.

Even then, the ambitious Mancini is aiming to make his job even harder. Should Samir Nasri sign from Arsenal, there will be two players for every position, even before mentioning James Milner's adaptability.

The permutations extend beyond that - of the octet, perhaps only Dzeko and Toure are suited to only one of the four attacking positions (centre-forward in the Bosnian's case and raiding midfielder for the Ivorian).

Silva can appear the classic trequartista, but he has the ability to roam around unchecked from either flank.

The putative arrival of Nasri, though more prolific and less stylish, is similarly versatile.

Balotelli has the physical and technical gifts to prosper as either winger or striker, but he has nailed down neither position.

Johnson is a left-sided player reinvented on the right.

The enviable attacking options are more a product of accident than design in one respect. Aguero was signed as Tevez's replacement, but the older Argentine is yet to depart. The question of how, and where, they can coexist is thus posed.

Tevez's excellence as a one-man forward line last season can obscure his past, as half of a like-minded duo alongside Wayne Rooney or even raiding from the flanks for Manchester United.

Aguero proved prolific in partnership with Diego Forlan at Atletico Madrid, although the Uruguayan's propensity to drop deeper meant he seemed the lone forward at times.

Mancini's main attacker can be more isolated and that poses a challenge for Aguero to maintain his prolific return with a greater sense of responsibility and at a new club, or to prosper in a deeper role.

Indeed, the world's best player said Aguero can flourish anywhere.

"I have no doubt that he will be successful at City," Lionel Messi said.

"He will give them a real cutting edge. He's unique - he has immense power, strength and an incredible work ethic. Defenders will find him so difficult to play against.

"Carlos Tevez has been a huge success in England, and Sergio will be no different."

If Aguero is in Mancini's A-team, circumstances have offered an enticing Plan B: a duo in attack, either the undersized Argentines, Tevez and Aguero, or one of them as foil to the target man, Dzeko.

The likelihood is that more variety will be required, one way or another.

Last season, Mancini did not rank among the leading practitioners of squad rotation, although injuries to Tevez, Johnson and Balotelli are a partial explanation.

Now, however, he has the chance to mix and match and the opportunity to pick from a pedigree pack.

Published: August 15, 2011 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one