Manchester City should have held on to Edin Dzeko
A Champions League semi final beckons for Edin Dzeko with Roma. But should Manchester City have given the Bosnian more of a chance?
“Aguero! I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again. So watch it! Drink it in!”
That was Martin Tyler’s unforgettable heat of the moment reaction to Manchester City’s title-winning goal against QPR in the dying embers of the 2011/2012 season. Sergio Aguero’s last-ditch winner will live long in the memory not only in Manchester but across the globe.
And rightfully so. This was almost beyond comprehension. League leaders Manchester City found themselves a goal down to 10-man relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers, following Jamie Mackie’s second-half strike.
Roberto Mancini’s team needed to equal or better Manchester United’s result, who were leading at the Stadium of Light. The clock was ticking and hope fading on the club’s first league title since 1968.
Only after Mackie’s goal did Mancini turn to Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian international was averaging a goal every 113 minutes in the league, no mean feat, but this equated to only 13 goals, owing to the Italian manager’s disinterest in affording him more playing time.
On the 69th minute, Dzeko replaced Gareth Barry. In the second minute of injury time, he scored the equalising goal: a towering header from a David Silva corner before Aguero stole the headlines.
Nowadays, some fans outside Manchester might even struggle to recall who put the game back in the balance such was the focus on Aguero’s winner.
Edin to the Etihad
2008 was the year that Manchester City’s ownership changed hands, and their first team investment began. In January 2011, Dzeko became their second most expensive transfer, behind Robinho who had already come and gone.
For £27 million at the time, it would be normal to expect to feature regularly in your new team. Dzeko had to settle for just eight starts in the remainder of the campaign and scored only two goals. Not the finest of beginnings, but most don’t set the world alight immediately in the Premier League.
Dzeko scored 14 Premier League goals in each of his two following seasons, despite playing second fiddle to Manchester City’s superstar strike force. In 2013/14, the Bosnian enjoyed his first year of over 20 domestic starts in blue (23) and reached 16 goals for the campaign.
Despite his form, he was then overlooked in favour of others and 2014/15 proved to be his last season at the Etihad owing to his lack of game time.
Why was Dzeko so disregarded by his managers? As of March 2018, Edin Dzeko had the 12th best minutes per goal ratio of any striker in Premier League history, bettering those of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, according to FourFourTwo’s data.
In a word: style. Even today, Sergio Aguero is lauded as one of the greatest ever Premier League strikers. Yes, he is superior to Dzeko but his reputation far exceeds that of his former teammate due to his wonderful strikes and aesthetically pleasing play.
Even maverick Mario Balotelli was afforded a similar amount of game time to Dzeko for several years. Balotelli proved that he was a talented young player, but his indiscipline and dips in form would prove too much to convince Manchester City to keep him.
The big Bosnian
Dzeko, with his 1.93m frame, was typically looked upon as the last minute Plan B. If a goal was needed at the thirteenth hour who better to turn to than the mountainous striker who could receive the ball from deep to nod home a vital goal.
Perhaps his vital part played against Queens Park Rangers damaged his career at the Etihad. Yes, he wrote himself into the periphery of Manchester City folklore, but he typecast himself to onlookers. Forever would Premier League fans look at the Bosnian and associate him with a last-minute equaliser, a rescuer of lost causes.
It is natural for lovers of “the beautiful game” to long for exactly that: attractive football. This is why the likes of Arsène Wenger and Pep Guardiola have earned credit over the years, they are winners, and winners who charm their fans with football.
He does not deserve to be lumped in with the Duncan Fergusons of this world, but ultimately, when your competition at club level is Sergio Aguero it’s tough to look like the best striker in the team, never mind the league.
Rome is where the heart is
Dzeko is a winner, though He has been victorious in domestic championships in Germany and England, and is his countries top scorer of all time. Many would swap his career for theirs in a heartbeat.
However, ask Premier League aficionados to name their top 20 strikers of the competition and, chances are, Edin Dzeko’s name would be missing from most lists.
Now, Dzeko is proving to the world what he could have been in English football. Last season, he claimed the top scorer prize in Serie A, netting 29 times for Roma. It was the most prolific year of his career, and not coincidentally, the one where he spent the most time on the pitch.
This campaign, the goals have slowed down in the league, but Dzeko scored twice against Barcelona and once against Liverpool in the Champions League, proving that he is no flat track bully.
His goals at the Nou Camp and Anfield were both finely taken finishes, too and signal he has much more to offer than the plan B Premier League fans might attribute to him.
One has to wonder how good he could have been in England had he been given the chance he deserved.
What do you think? Is there a more underrated Premier League striker than Dzeko? Let us know by commenting below.