Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sergio Aguero's injury could hinder Man City's ambitions


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It was of little surprise that Manuel Pellegrini was in no mood to speculate over the prognosis for Sergio Aguero's injury. Manchester City must wait on news of their talisman. As the Argentine striker lay still and clearly in agony in the second minute of their close-run victory over Everton, the worst was feared.

The Chilean manager did not try to soft-shoe matters.

"It's impossible at this moment to know how long he will be out," said Pellegrini, before confirming what many amateur physicians suspected when Aguero dropped to the floor with his knee twisting as he stretched for a loose ball. "He has a problem with a ligament in his knee. We must wait for the doctor."

Only a medical miracle will see Aguero play against Roma on Wednesday night as City fight for their Champions League lives. For Pellegrini, European progress is vital to his future employment prospects, as is defending City's title.

"Probably he will miss the game," Pellegrini said with typical understatement. "If you have a problem in your ligament, it is difficult to play in three days.
The timing of Sergio Aguero's injury couldn't be worse as Manchester City face Roma
 this week with their Champions League season in the balance.
"It's a big problem, because Sergio was in a very good moment," continued Pellegrini, underselling just how incendiary Aguero's impact has been on City's season.

Without the Argentine, they would not have been in position to pounce on Chelsea's slip at Newcastle. Beating Everton might be the first day of a new life without the Premier League's best performer of the 2014-15 season. City are now three points off Chelsea, though the thrill of proving credentials was tempered by a growing injury list.

"It was important because Chelsea lost and to recover points from the leaders," said Pellegrini. "December is a very difficult month. You don't win the title, but it's a key month."

Nineteen goals, including the hat-trick against Bayern Munich that kept hopes in Europe on a life-support machine, and a brace that devastated Sunderland midweek are what Pellegrini must survive without. Last Sunday, Aguero played expert provider in blowing away Southampton, proving he is far more than poacher supreme.

Those painful moments when Aguero and City's physio made achingly slow progress around the perimeter of the Eastlands pitch were a worst-case scenario realised.

It is not just Aguero whom City must try to do without. Edin Dzeko could not be risked, admitting afterward that the plan was not to play more than 30 minutes. Instead, teenager Jose Pozo carried the burden until 60 minutes had elapsed and the Bosnian came on.

"David Silva is not ready. [Stevan] Jovetic has a problem," said Pellegrini, listing his casualties, which also included Fernandinho. "That's why I am pleased to beat a very good team without four or five very important players."

At least those players, and Vincent Kompany, have an imminent return date set. Aguero's situation looks far more perilous. News of the scan is awaited with bated breath in the blue half of Manchester. Even if his injury is restricted to a medial ligament problem, he is likely to miss a holiday schedule in which City must play seven matches.
Manuel Pellegrini's future could depend on how he does in the Champions League and whether Manchester City
can retain their Premier League title -- tasks that have become much more difficult without Sergio Aguero.
With Aguero fit and firing, a clean sweep would not have been outlandish to predict. Premier League fixtures against Leicester, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Burnley and Sunderland should be within Pellegrini's grasp without him. With Dzeko returning and Jovetic mobile enough to face a fitness test on Sunday, City have strikers available, though they might live to lament the decision to let Alvaro Negredo leave in the summer.

"It's not easy replacing Sergio," James Milner admitted afterward, and City now need the depth of their squad to deliver dividends. Milner, excellent throughout, embodied a determination to keep fires burning even without the Argentine's spark of genius.

"We have other players, and we will rearrange if he does not play," said Pellegrini.

Samir Nasri, City's outstanding player against Everton, did a more than passable impression of Silva in the central, creative position that the Spaniard delivers so often from. The Frenchman has often faded in the wake of the galactico likes of Aguero and Yaya Toure, but he reminded of the class he can offer when handed responsibility. It is from their second tier that City must find their heroes.

Toure scored the penalty winner that separated City from a poor Everton side they would surely have dismantled with Aguero in full flight, and he survived his own first-half injury scare to add his muscle to the scrappy late stages in which that single-goal lead was guarded jealously. Cheer for Pellegrini was provided by the excellence of Eliaquim Mangala in partnership with Martin Demichelis, in the absence of Kompany, who City remain hopeful might be capable of playing a part in Italy.

Beating Everton revealed a different, dogged City. The grit they have lacked for much of the campaign made its return.

"I always said that this team is not just Sergio Aguero," said Pellegrini.

City must wait to find out how long they will have to prove that for.
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