»Hello Twitter, Edin Dzeko here,« reads the one solitary tweet from Manchester City’s £27 million Bosnian striker. Unfortunately, his introduction to English football has been just as quiet. He has admittedly scored four times for his new club, but not yet in the league – and only against Notts County and Aris Salonika. After another baffling outing for Dzeko in City’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, it is the fans making the noise, most of them asking the question, »What the hell did we spend all that money for?«
They needn’t worry – there’s plenty more in the bank. But Dzeko’s Premier League career is stuttering and the rangy front-man who scored goals for fun at VfL Wolfsburg looks distraught. Reputed to be a modest guy, perhaps he has found the Manchester City dressing room a place for braggards. His decision-making on the pitch lacks self-confidence.
Sunday was a chance for him to shine. City’s first choice striker Carlos Tevez was out injured, whilst Mario Balotelli had been dropped to bench after (more) bad behaviour in mid-week. That meant a fifth Premier League start for Dzeko in Roberto Mancini’s defensive-minded 4-5-1 formation, with David Silva, Yaya Touré and James Milner in support.
Unfortunately, Dzeko failed to seize his chance. His first touch was heavy, his vision poor and his goal-menace non-existent. His best chance was a well-executed glancing header that looped just over the Chelsea goal. It was also a reminder of what Dzeko is good at – and of the failure of Manchester City to play to his strengths.
City came to Stamford Bridge to bag a thrilling 0-0, just as they did at the Emirates in January. Mancini ordered his men back behind the ball and they defended en masse, certainly disciplined, but ultimately stifled. It was unattractive and unambitious and made it easy to see why they are without an away win in 2011. Thanks to such negativity, they are currently sitting fourth in the table with Tottenham Hotspur breathing down their neck, four points behind with a game in hand.
With so many players back behind the ball, Man City desperately needed an outlet up the pitch to counter, either providing pace to get in behind the adventuring Chelsea line, or to hold the ball up and allow the under-pressure Man City players the time to transition to attack. Dzeko fulfilled neither of those roles.
His first touch was often clumsy, and he conceded position when he needed to trap the ball, hold it, and play it out to an energetic team-mate theoretically steaming up the pitch. And when running on to speculative balls out of the defence he was slow, ponderous and seemed unsure of his options. In short, the brilliant Chelsea new boy David Luiz ate him for lunch.
Man city were not playing to his strengths, but Dzeko was also not playing smart enough. At Wolfsburg, he thrived in the six-yard box meeting crosses with a towering header or stabbing them home after a dart between the centre-backs. Now, he is being asked to do too much of his work outside the box (making the 10 on his back rather than the nine seem appropriate) and seems puzzled by the whole affair.
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He should have the quality and intelligence to help himself, by plucking clearances out of the air and quickly spreading the play out wide, so he can charge into the box and wait for a cross. Against Chelsea though, the ball either bounced off him or he turned, had a half-hearted run at the defence and conceded possession. It was not a vintage performance and Alan Hansen, Lee Dixon and Clarence Seedorf tutted collectively on the Match of the Day sofa at his poor showing.
When players move countries, it can be all too easy to forget that they are young men, stranded in a foreign city with no friends, and under intense scrutiny. A huge salary is a nice bonus but moving abroad is a challenge and one that can severely dent your confidence. There is every chance that Dzeko will improve next season, when not only England, but its football and the curious interpretation of it played at Manchester City, seem a little less alien. For now though, Arsenal and Manchester United, both of whom considered Dzeko, are no doubt quietly breathing a sigh of relief that a player whose nickname in Bosnia was ‘Kloc’ – lamppost – has failed to light up Manchester City’s ambitions.
An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die englische Fußball-Kultur auf Deutschh
Folge 31: Wacko Jacko
Die beste Nachrichte der Woche: Herr Michael Jackson, der Endspinner, wird dank seines grossen Freund Mohamed Al Fayed mit einer herrlichen Statue gedacht worden. Der Fulham-Besitzer wollte erstmals die farbenfreudige Statue neben Harrods installieren, aber hat zuletzt sein Kaufhaus verkauft. Deshalb, Jacko kommt jetzt zum Craven Cottage, bei dem er mit Al Fayed Fulham Spiele gelegentlich geguckt hat. Seine Beinarbeit war natürlich spektakulär und sein haut so weiss wie die Fulham Tirkots: Die Lage ist dann perfekt für eine Statue des King of Pop. ‚Bad’? Nein! Ganz sicher, ein verdammtes ‚Thriller’!