As we kick around the need for new defenders one question does come to mind. Just how much better will Nedum Onuoha be this year? The presumption, and I have been as guilty as anyone of this, is that we need to being in a great central defender to partner with Vincent Kompany in the middle of defense. But the more I look at the England U21 International the more I believe that one of the solutions is already at the club. Onuoha's combination of height, speed and strength is an excellent one. I've also wondered that if a Terry or someone similar joins the club, would Onuoha be tried at Left Back, a position he is capable of playing.
With Pablo Zapaleta, Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany and Onuoha I'm not sure the club is as deficient in the defensive department as we keep telling ourselves, but rather that the correct combination has not been found. The Richard Dunne who played recently against Bulgaria is well worth keeping. The Richard Dunne who has played for City for the last 18 months is not. Hence the club's search.
Last year was a lost year in many ways for Richards, but he was one of the hottest young players in the league prior to last season. Again the system of Sven had a lot to do with that when the England International made the switch to central defender. The Richards of three years ago is better than an 18 million Glen Johnson.
Felipe Caicedo, Ched Evans and Gelson Fernandes are all being discussed as players leaving the club. I've never been sold on Fernandes, while Evans strikes me as a good striker with a bright future, but one that should probably be at the Championship level for a season or two. His game can grow significantly from that first team football, but I don't think we would regret selling either player.
Caicedo on the other hand is a player that with some maturation could be a useful battering ram center forward. There is a shortage of those in the world, specifically in the English game, and there are games and situations where that is exactly the player that you want on your team or in your squad. It's one of the reasons, as bizarre as it sounds, that I've always thought that Kevin Davies should get a run out in an England shirt. Against some of the smaller international nations you need that route one brute force rather than the sophistication of a superstar. Therefore I'd prefer to see Caicedo leave on loan giving the club the option to hold onto the player if his development continues. At only age 20, he will not reach his prime for at least a half dozen years and it's better to develop our own players long term than the buy buy buy mentality which is understandable in the short term, but is realistically unsustainable.
Loyal readers will recall the suggestion I made in January that if the club really wanted RSC then they might look to offer over the odds for the Blackburn striker and his central defender colleague Christopher Samba who would provide some quality for the club. Flash forward some six months and I see that for the first time we are now being linked with the Congo international.
Elsewhere... City's former longest serving player, a certain Joey Barton, is reportedly being chased by Birmingham. Barton, who missed the turn off for the last chance saloon about 5 miles back, somehow keeps popping up. I suspect Birmingham are being lulled by their successful Lee Bowyer reclamation project, but if you want the definition of pressure that Premier League managers are under then this is it. The bottom line is that Barton is better than the players Birmingham currently have and that apparently is good enough. April 10th for those of you that are curious is when Birmingham come to visit. Even if this goes through anyone taking bets on Barton still being with them by then?
And finally... I read a fair number of articles each day. I was very surprised last September when Martin Samuel left The Times to go work for the Daily Mail. Sort of the equivalent of trading in Rachel Weisz for Jade Goody. Samuel, a previous Sports Journalist of the Year, has been an oasis of hope in an otherwise fairly dismal daily read. But check out his article today on the Federer vs. Roddick Wimbledon final. Yes, it's Tennis; doesn't matter. Sports writing at its absolute best. If you read one non football article today, read that one. Sheer class.