Europe English Premier League

Ilkay Gundogan claims Man City playing better without a No. 9

Despite lacking the additional goals that would have come courtesy of a bona fide striker since the departure of star striker Sergio Aguero to Camp Nou, Manchester City has been doing creditably well, having won another big match without a center-forward in the team and Ilkay Gundogan is of the persuasion that the team are clearl not sufffering for the lack of one. And neither is he pining for one.

Gundogan believes that the Blues have done more than enough this season to prove they can hack it well without a regular No. 9 although the club were very intent on signing a center-forward in the summer transfer window to replace the outgoing Aguero, but their harried pursuits were futile having failed to prise Harry Kane or Erling Haaland away from Tottenham and Dortmund, respectively.

Although admittedly having dropped some points in a number of games this season for the clear lack of a clinical finishing edge in front of goal, City have had to pay the price in not being to maximise on opportunities created that a regular center-forward would have easily pounced on and converted.

However, the argument that has been used by some to counter that conventional thinking is that the Blues not only encountered immense difficulty in securing their intended targets but that inserting a No. 9 back into the current formation could negatively impact the overall collective quality and cohesiveness that tactical supremo Pep Guardiola has so masterfully instilled into his carefully-assembled brilliant team of midfielders over the last two seasons.

Gundogan had been an integral part and parcel of the ‘striker-less’ squad that made a complete mockery of the United side that proudly fronted a whole menagerie of world-class strikers, not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo, at Old Trafford on Saturday and subsequently easily won another big game without the services of a center-forward. Post-match, the midfielder reinforced his confidence that City’s unorthodox approach in defying convention seems to be succeeding and reaping positive results.

“It is always about what we make of the situations,” he said.

“There were a lot of discussions at the start of the season that we were lacking a typical number nine. But I think we already showed last season that we are able to play without this typical striker.

“We have proven that again this season that we are able to be very flexible and play a few players up front.

“At the end, it is always about finding the spaces your opponent will give you and then being aggressive in front of goal to score. A mix of that gives you goals. If you have a striker or not, it doesn’t matter.”

Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia