A common cliche in football is to only judge a player, or manager, or team after ten games. It’s often a tactic to deflect from a poor start, although ten games does provide a reasonable amount of evidence to support how well a side is doing.
Pep Guardiola may not entertain any definite judgements being made of his side until Manchester City have played every team in the Premier League, though, and he’s previously referred to a season of two halves for 2022/23 with the World Cup break coming in November. City are also anything but a struggling side at the moment, too.
Still, with the first international break upon us, City are ten competitive games into the new season after a summer of unusually high turnover in the transfer market. This feels a time as good as any to reflect on their start, and especially pick our some players who have had a better opening to the season and some who will need to kick on when domestic football resumes.
Naturally, whenever Grealish doesn’t score or assist in a game, he will come in for external criticism, however, the manner in which Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne among others leapt to his defence after the latest wave of talk that he isn’t contributing enough. He seems to be far more comfortable in the system this year and is getting more involved in the final third, even after missing a few games through injury.
The final ‘winner’ from the opening few games could be any of Joao Cancelo and his fine assists, the brilliant Kevin De Bruyne, or the tireless Bernardo Silva. However, maybe the most surprising positive of the early-season games is Nathan Ake, who earned his place at the back after a good pre-season and has been able to force his way back in after injury.
Ake won’t play every game, and Manuel Akanji’s arrival will limit his chances further, however, his early-season form shows that he will be a reliable and quality option whenever called upon.
Phillips has been denied a chance to ease his way into the team, and will now have to fight his way into the squad when the momentum of the rest of his teammates will be far higher. With just 13 minutes over three substitute appearances, Phillips’ start to life at City could hardly have been worse.
However, Alvarez is in the unfortunate position that he is sidelined by Haaland’s imperious form, so has struggled to get a regular run in the team despite his rate of a goal every 83 minutes. It’s a situation that can’t be helped, but Alvarez is definitely among City’s more unlucky players of the opening ten games.
He hasn’t become a bad player overnight, although he knows as much as anyone that a player has to be performing at a high level in order to retain their place in a Guardiola side. At the moment, there are more in-form options ahead of him.