Edin Dzeko can be more than just a ‘super sub’ for Manchester City but starting him would cause as many problems as it solves for Roberto Mancini.
Despite only starting five of the 14 matches he has played in, Dzeko is City’s top scorer so far this season with seven goals, six of which have come off the bench.
Having replaced Carlos Tévez, the Bosnian scored a late winner on Sunday against Tottenham to secure all three points, repeating his heroics from games against Fulham and West Brom.
Whenever he is asked about his “new” role, Dzeko insists he can score when he starts too – and he is clearly right given 64 of his 66 Bundesliga goals for Wolfsburg came in matches he started.
Even when he started last season with seven goals in four matches, he was surprisingly rested for the next match and struggled for form when he returned.
If he were to be given a run in the team this season, it would have to come at the expense of Tévez, Sergio Aguero or Mario Balotelli.
While the egotistical Italian hasn’t threatened this season, the two Argentines have been Mancini’s preferred partnership since Tévez returned from his golfing holiday.
They have also delivered crucial goals in their City careers too and, as with Dzeko, City have never lost a Premier League match in which at least one of the Argentine duo has scored.
They have also never lost a game in which both players have started together – something that perhaps a superstitious Mancini won’t want to change.
To leave out last season’s top scorer in Aguero or City’s all-time Premier League top goalscorer in Tévez represents a big gamble for Mancini and in pleasing Dzeko, he risks upsetting somebody else instead.
While most managers would envy the wealth of attacking talent at Mancini’s disposal, keeping all four fit, firing and happy is a huge test of his management skills.
Niggling injuries, differing tactics and a lack of Premiership experience aside, Southampton need to be picking Jason Puncheon even if they can’t decide on the other ten around him.
We are almost a third of the way into the Premier League season and new boys Southampton still can’t decide on their best XI – a trait that, epitomised by Queens Park Rangers, is proving to have a negative effect.
But after returning to the starting line-up against Swansea at the weekend, Puncheon needs to remain in the side if the Saints are to pose a significant attacking threat and get out of trouble.
The 26-year-old has not had the most fruitful time at Saints having been shipped out on loan to three different clubs since he joined in 2010 and his disputes with chairman Nicola Cortese were constantly cast into the public eye as he protested against being consistently overlooked.
Reacting in frustration, the winger was reprimanded in January after tweeting: “I’m not going anywhere. Going to sit and train with the kids for 18 months, see how Cortese likes that, then go on a free.”
And this was followed by speculation suggesting Puncheon was trying to engineer a move away from the club whilst Nigel Adkins had stated it was unlikely he would play for some time.
So far this season he has been in the squad for every game in the Premier League, starting seven games, but I worry more about his attitude than his playing ability.
There was speculation at the beginning of the season that he would be swapped with Matt Phillips at Blackpool but nothing materialised of the move.
If Adkins has found the right balance between making a player secure and simply keeping him on his toes.
We have seen at Tottenham that AVB is willing to drop his strikers and goalkeepers, even if they have scored a hat-trick or kept a clean sheet, while Mancini refuses to start Dzeko or Balotelli.
But in Puncheon’s case does his tendency to speak out about his frustration work against him when the manager comes to pick his Saturday side?
Players have egos, personalities and opinions and getting the balance right is something that Adkins must consider as he tries to establish some consistency and bring the best out of his players.
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