A year after he made his City debut, following a big money switch to the rigours of the Premier League – how has the Frenchman fared so far?
Mangala was already behind in his pre-season preparations
However, the rigours of the Premier League initially, didn’t faze him. His sheer pace, power, agility and strength – not to mention his aerial presence, meant he fit the mould of a defender City had been crying out for years. He was touted as the perfect man to partner Vincent Kompany, and lead the Citizens to glory. So, what went wrong?
Well, City’s defensive frailties were a major concern to their title charge. Kompany was often out-of-form, injured, or often indifferent from December onwards – which was frustrating to see for a captain to uncharacteristically drop below his extremely high standards.
Mistakes and goals began to creep in
Mangala was caught out on a number of occasions, either when he was required to play the ball out from defence, or just silly mistakes he made; which cost the team goals. As you’d know, goals decide games and although City had more-than-adequate firepower in attack with Sergio Agüero up-top, they struggled in the defensive department of the team.
The inconsistency displayed by the big Belgian meant someone had to step up, and realistically speaking, it couldn’t be Mangala. Not because he’s not good enough, but simply a man of little experience, in an unforgiving league. No towering figure alongside him to give helpful advice, thrown in at the deep end, the worst was expected and soon enough, many prematurely branded him as a “flop”.
Unfairly branded a flop – proven otherwise
Martin Demichelis got his chance centre-stage, and to the Argentine’s credit, he did himself justice. What he lacks in speed and agility, he makes up with his near-perfect positioning, interceptions galore and the concentration he possesses to rarely make mistakes deep into the second-half of a match, where City are holding onto a narrow lead.
His experience was vital in helping Mangala himself settle in, because in the absence of their captain, someone needed to step up. As the season continued, despite the fact that they could no longer challenge for the Premier League title itself, Mangala and the rest of the City players grew in confidence as the season drew to an eventual close. Demichelis, who at 34-years-old, was expected to be nothing more than a squad player, exceeded expectations significantly.
Having only conceding six goals in their concluding six fixtures of the league season, with four clean sheets to boot, City were able to finish the league campaign strongly and managed a second placed finish – albeit eight points behind Jose Mourinho’s men in the final standings.
A promising start, turbulent middle, and impressive end to the 2014/15 term, it’s debatable whether or not Mangala has actually justified his hefty price-tag, just yet. That being said though, he’s still developing and eager to improve. Plenty of opportunities to prove his doubters otherwise.