Friday, January 08, 2010

Thoughts on the Vieira signing

Patrick Vieira was officially unveiled at a press conference this afternoon, and the concensus of opinion on the blogs and forums has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

Many have pointed towards his vast experience, with a footballing CV spanning the Premier League, Serie A and the international arena, with titles and trophies won wherever he has played. It is this factor more than most identified as a positive he will bring to the club.

But whilst experience is an important facet that Vieira provides, the most pressing issue for me is exactly where he will play. Whilst the rumoured £100,000 per week no doubt smoothed negotiations, Vieira has stated it is important for him to be playing regular football ahead of this summers World Cup - with him no longer a feature in the French side of late, and that he is not here to merely make up the numbers. It is does not sound therefore as though he would have signed on with ourselves to solely be a squad player, providing depth as we enter an important six months of our history. He could have stayed at Inter and played intermittently for that.

It is logical then that he will be for the most part a fixture in the starting line-up. Looking at his recent career at Inter, he was largely deployed as a defensive spoiler; with a far more defensive outlook than his marauding, midfield-general days during his pomp at Arsenal. The issue here though is that we already possess two very capable players who operate in this position in Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong - with Nigel de Jong a strong candidate for player of the season such is his form. Will Vieira be able to offer more than either of those two?

At most, Roberto Mancini will operate with three central midfielders so a line-up with de Jong and Vieira is plausible. This would have ramifications for either Gareth Barry or Stephen Ireland though, with Barry perhaps most at threat to allow the creativity of Ireland to complement the defensive outlook of the rest of the midfield.

If Mancini opts for a 4-4-2 though - which in his first games appears to be a preferred formation - the picture becomes even more clouded. We would then operate with two wide-midfield players, with two from de Jong, Vieira, Ireland and Barry being selected in the central roles. There is the possibility of shoe-horning Barry and Ireland out wide, but Mancini's preference historically has been for genuine wide players (even using full-backs) in the wide positions.

Of course, games are going to come thick and fast between now and May with an increasingly congested fixture due to the recent adverse weather, so squad depth is vital and we have suffered from a number of injuries in recent times which has really stretched a squad even the size of ours. Yet the more I think about the signing of Vieira, it is not an obvious one and it throws up plenty of questions as to what role Mancini has in mind for him and what the effect of his inclusion will be.

As we saw with some of the signings Mark Hughes made though, you have to defer to their knowledge and judgement; Mancini knows Vieira and his capabilities and evidently thinks enough of him to have brought him to the club and have a key role for him.

It is something that I will be watching with keen interest though.

vote it up!


Unknown said...

i just hope he still got some class still in him

Diplo said...

vincent company can be a CB
barry a LB
de jong and vieira as DM