Defensive errors in shock defeat may force Manchester City to spend

Shockloss to newcomers Cardiff due to errors at set pieces is likely to see Pellegrini in market for centre back before end of transfer window

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 3:58am

Manchester City could once again be tempted to throw money at a problem after a shock 3-2 defeat by Cardiff City highlighted the need for top-quality cover for first-choice centre backs Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic.

Having splashed out about £90 million (HK$1.1 billion) on bolstering their attack with Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, it was their lack of spending at the other end of the pitch that was exposed in Wales.

They lost Kompany to a groin strain during last week's Premier League opener against Newcastle United and were already without Nastasic, who is recovering from an ankle problem, forcing them to field a makeshift partnership in Cardiff.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini chose not to blame Joleon Lescott, the England defender who lost his place to Nastasic last season, or Javi Garcia, the midfielder who was drafted in to play alongside him, saying there was a collective responsibility.

"Defending set pieces is the job of the whole team. It doesn't matter who is guilty, but to concede two goals from corners is too many," the Chilean said.

City went ahead with Edin Dzeko's 52nd-minute goal before Aron Gunnarsson levelled on the hour. Last season's league runners-up were then undone by two Fraizer Campbell headers from corners in the space of eight minutes.

Negredo pulled one back for City in stoppage time after coming on as a substitute, but it was too late.

"We lost because we didn't concentrate. We will work on this during the week," said Pellegrini, whose side had stormed to a 4-0 win in their match at home to Newcastle.

He had said before the game Kompany's absence was not a reason to bring in a centre back before the transfer window closes next Monday.

But after last term's meanest defence leaked goals against Premier League newcomers, he may change his mind.

Kompany has been ruled out for around a month, making him a doubt for the first Manchester derby of the season when City host champions United on September 22, while Nastasic has only just returned to training.

With Micah Richards out with a hamstring problem and having seen Kolo Toure depart on a free transfer to Liverpool, City find themselves depleted at the back.

They have the financial means and the time to do something about it, should they wish to, and having been given a target of five trophies in five seasons Pellegrini could still take their close-season spending over the £100 million mark.

City, who won the Premier League the season before last and the FA Cup in 2011, have been linked recently Pepe, of Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid's Martin Demichelis.

Under manager Roberto Mancini last term, City let in 34 goals in 38 games. In the previous season they had an even better record, conceding just 29 on their way to the title.

But they let in eight goals in their last three pre-season games.