Wil power: How Bony can save Manchester City’s season

By Emma Whitney.

As Manchester City start to breathe down Chelsea’s neck for the final run to the league title, the signing of Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony could be the difference for Manuel Pellegrini.

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Things are never boring where Manchester City are concerned. Since becoming the world’s richest football club in 2008 – in an act of sport-loving philanthropy on the part of Sheikh Mansour – the average fan might have expected to see the days of ‘typical City’ consigned to that great football pitch in the sky; along with shorts that resemble long johns and weekly wage packets which don’t equate to a small country’s GDP. Sadly, for the legions of oft-suffering Sky Blues, that just hasn’t happened. Anyone who thought money would equal a smooth progression to glory was sorely mistaken.

City came dangerously close to finding a semblance of freewheeling consistency under Manuel Pellegrini last term, yet, this season, they are again struggling to bear the mantle of reigning Champions. In no area is this more apparent than one: their relative lack of goals. City have scored 56 times in 26 Premier League games -exceptional by most teams’ standards – but not quite good enough for the blue half of Manchester any more. Last year, by contrast, City had netted 69 times at this stage.

But the Sky Blues still have time on their side. One way to ensure that they don’t slip up between now and May (whilst hoping Chelsea do, of course) is to simply find the back of the net and crush teams more frequently again. This year, City’s fearsome strike-force of Sergio Agüero, Edin Džeko and Stevan Jovetić have all struggled with injury and loss of form, thwarting manager Pellegrini’s style of all-out attack. Who to call when your one world-class striker is injury-prone and your two other really-quite-decent forwards epitomise frustration? Wilfried Bony, of course.

It was no secret that City were desperate to buy the Ivorian powerhouse in January, and no wonder, as he was the league’s top scorer in the calendar year 2014 with 17 goals to his name. That’s one more than Agüero and three more than Džeko – Bony averages a goal every 139 minutes in England’s elite division, having scored 35 times for Swansea City. Pipping Džeko’s own minutes-per-goal average of 141, he combines similar attributes to the Bosnian – aerial ability and presence – with a strength not seen from a forward at the Etihad since the much-loved Álvaro Negredo went back to Spain.

As well as goals, City have also lacked a certain spine at times this season, causing them to drop points when they might have pushed on and secured the win. They are fortunate that a dry period in front of goal these days just means not quite thrashing teams with the regularity of last year. Bony will be expected to boost City’s goal tally, but his physical presence in and around the box might be the biggest boon from now until May. If he really is heir to the Beast – as Negredo was affectionately known in East Manchester – then City fans will be in for a treat.

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Freshly returned from AFCON triumph with City talisman and compatriot Yaya Touré, Bony has the chance to fulfil another lifetime dream: playing in the Champions League. His experience in the Europa League, not to mention his time tearing up the Eredivisie for Vitesse Arnhem (46 goals in 65 games), will stand him in good stead.

Ultimately, the only way to judge if Bony has been a good buy at £25million from Swansea will be if another piece of silverware nestles in the Etihad trophy cabinet this summer. The Champions League is surely still a bridge too far at the moment but the title race is still on. In many ways, Bony couldn’t be joining City at a better time with recent results showing City are finding their stride, while Chelsea are indicating they are capable of at least the occasional wobble.

Nothing would please City fans more if Bony began to bring out the best in Jovetić and Džeko; two strikers who often turn it on when they need them most but who lack the consistency needed to raise them to Agüero’s level. Adapting to Pellegrini’s preferred 4-4-2 formation might offer Bony the chance to develop as a player but now City have other options if they find themselves low on forwards again. He probably should have opened his account against Newcastle on Saturday, but it’s hard to feel Bony will do anything but cause even more headaches for opposing defences at the Etihad. He may have been Daddy Cool in South Wales but the Ivorian ‘goal machine’ is set to be smoking hot in East Manchester. Watch this space.

Follow @emmalucywhitney

Read more from Emma Whitney here!

All stats courtesy of BBC Sport, statto.com, Mail Online and transfermarkt.co.uk

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