Transfer assessment: Johnson signs but Mariga and Gago miss out

The good news was the signing of Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough, who takes the number 11 shirt previously worn by Elano. The bad news was the failure to sign a central midfielder, which Roberto Mancini clearly felt we needed.

With Mancini looking to play two defensively strong midfielders at any one time, he has been of the view that we need alternatives to Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong. Nobody who saw Barry’s performance against Portsmouth would deny he needs to be rested. There’s also talk he’s been carrying an injury, and this might explain recent performances.

The defensive qualities of Stephen Ireland in a midfield pair don’t appear to have convinced Mancini, while Vincent Kompany hasn’t played well in midfield since he came back from injury earlier this season.

With Vieira yet to prove his fitness, the hunt has been on for another central midfielder. Flamini on loan was an early target, but with first team opportunies at Milan opening up, he decided to stay put.

Gago and his agent were up for a move out of Madrid as the player sought first team action in the run-up to the World Cup. Unfortunately Madrid wanted him as cover unless City were willing to reduce their bank debts by paying over the odds. A reported 13 million euros was turned down as Real hung on for 17 million.

Attention then turned to McDonald Mariga and everything looked dandy. Parma were happy to sell him in return for cash and Bojinov, while the player was up for the move. Everything seemed agreed by the end of last week, but we had to wait until today to get the work permit.

To City’s evident surprise, this was turned down despite the player having appeared in 75% of Kenya’s internationals. Unfortunately this only counts for countries with a Fifa ranking of no higher than 70, and Kenya are in the 90’s. City’s immediate appeal was also turned down.

No more appeals could be heard today, and it would be the next transfer window before we can sign the 6′ 2″ Kenyan. However, it now appears that Inter Milan have nipped in and signed Marigo so that’s the end of that.

Expect City to be furious, and rightly so. If a player is good enough for Inter, then how come he isn’t good enough for a work permit in this country? Plenty of other exceptions have been made to the rules, and there are plenty worse overseas players granted work permits.

With only a few hours of the transfer window remaining, there appears to have been an attempt to revive a deal for Gago, possibly in the form of a loan. However time ran out and the Argentine is left to fret over his World Cup place.

I expect Mancini will be hugely disappointed that one of these deals didn’t come off and there will be questions asked of Brian Marwood, our Football Administrator.

A replacement for Robinho, and a central midfielder appear to have been our only targets as there doesn’t appear to have been major attempts to strengthen the defence.

Along with the upturn in Micah Richards form, the recent performances of Nedum Onuoha have made the case for an additional right-back less pressing. This may be why the Motta loan deal was allowed to drift after reported complications.

The excellent form of Kompany and Boyata has likewise made alternatives to Toure and Lescott appear less essential.

We now need players to step up to the plate alongside de Jong in central midfield. Barry needs to regain his form and consistency. Vieira needs to prove his fitness. Kompany needs to find his midfield form of last season, and Ireland may need to show more defensive discipline.

All these players are now going to be needed if we’re to maintain a bid for fourth place and the FA Cup.

The signing of Adam Johnson in a last minute deadline day deal has echoes of Robinho, but that’s where the similarities end. Johnson is no more a galactico than Middlesbrough is Madrid, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a success. The fee was undisclosed, but talk is of £6 million initially with more dependent on his success at City. This sounds about right after City were believed to have initially bid £4m while Boro wanted £9m.

The Wearsider is naturally a left-winger who has done a job on the right and will hopefully be happier about it than Petrov. Whether he can make the transition from star of a struggling team to performing at the top end of the Premier League remains to be seen. He has pace, skill and an eye for goal, so we should look forward to seeing him.

Finally, despite being linked with and speaking to about half the clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League, we might still have Benjani. One other player that did move was Javan Vidal who joined Derby on loan until the end of the season.

  • What’s your verdict on City’s transfer window? Will missing out on Marigo and Gago prove costly?
Verdict: Manchester City 2 Portsmouth 0
Farce of McDonald Mariga’s work permit laid bare

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