If there’s a “No Sh*t Sherlock” award going for article titles, this may very well be shortlisted. Manchester City need Aguero. However, it is just how much City need him that is surprising.
Especially when we are constantly being told that Guardiola has at his disposal one of if not the best squads ever to grace the top tier of English football. It is not that City are a one-man team – far from it, it is just the team they are without him, and even without him firing on all cylinders, is just not the same. It is not the team that is capable of winning a double, never mind the quadruple.
One Man Team?
With the Carabao Cup already in their trophy cabinet, we are coming up to the business end of the footballing calendar. As has been the case throughout the season, bookmakers have City favourites to win the Champions League. After a dramatic and rollercoaster couple of weeks in the league, they are also favourites (at the time of writing) to win the EPL and the FA Cup. Imagine for a second what the implications of an Aguero injury, one that would keep him out for the remainder of the season would be on those odds, on City’s chances of capturing one, two, or three of those trophies.
Accusations of being a one-man team have been thrown out at Spurs – famously by Guardiola himself, though admittedly he did backtrack earlier this season. Kane’s injury did see others in Spurs shirts step up, notably Son, but maybe it is no coincidence that Tottenham’s recent bad run, albeit with Kane back in the side, has come at the back end of that period.
Last season Salah was very much the talisman for Liverpool. When the Egyptian went off injured in the Champions League final, you could sense the shift in atmosphere amongst the fans and crucially the players, as they suddenly realised they would need a plan B; one they had not needed to resort to all season.
As soon as any club does get a player who is heads and shoulders above everyone else in that team, that accusation is going to be levelled at them. Over several seasons Aguero has shown that he as close to the perfect striker that you can be, but looking at the names on the City team sheet, or even those on the bench, it is hard to justify the claim that he is heads and shoulders above everyone else. Then why is he so pivotal to their success?
Victim of his own success
The answer is simply that there is no one else at the club who even comes close to being able to play that role. Liverpool are – unfairly in my opinion – accused of relying on their front three too much. The fact that they are a three, means one or more can have an off day, even an off month, and the effects are not so debilitating. Klopp also has options to change things around, and Origi has shown that he is capable of stepping up and making a difference.
Sergio Aguero has scored 18 of City’s league goals this season. That is practically a quarter of the club’s total tally. He has also contributed five assists. In his four games in the Champions League, he’s found the net three times. Raheem Sterling is the next highest goal scorer with 12, no one else has double figures. Jesus, the only man who is anywhere near a like for like for Aguero, is just 21 years of age. Undoubtedly talented though he is, he is just not capable of shouldering the responsibility – or the minutes or goals – for the remainder of the campaign.
Guardiola must be aware of this. So too Aguero himself. In an already pressured situation, the knowledge that the club has most, if not all its eggs residing in an Aguero shaped basket heaps yet more pressure on player and manager. Whatever the outcome this season, even if the mercurial Argentine does what was until recently the unthinkable and helps his side to the quadruple, you have to think that Guardiola will address this issue in the Summer. If that is the case, then the rest of the league had better watch out.