City Vox Pops, part 7

January transfer window targets.
Where do you think we'll strengthen, with who, and why?

Alan, Blue Days

At the moment I'm more interested in seeing how our existing players perform under the new manager. If Mancini can demonstrate the same powers of restoration as Martin O'Neill has on Richard Dunne, then several of our current squad (Lescott, Toure, Robinho and Adebayor in particular) could feel like new players.

As for actual new signings, defence is the obvious area to strengthen and Serie A is the likely place for shopping. A commanding centre-half would be top of my list. I don't know much about them, but one of the three youngsters - Simon Kjaer (Palermo), Neven Subotic (Dortmund), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino) - may be the best long term solution. However Mancini needs results now, so might go for the more experienced Chiellini, who may be viable given Juve's troubles. He's tough, but a little slow and clumsy for my liking. I hope we don't go for Upson - more of the same, but slower and older. As for Cordoba, the last thing we need is another small centre-back.

The real frustration is the current injuries leave us in need of central defenders now, whereas it could be the end of the month before any new signings are able to step in. By that time Onuoha, Bridge, Toure and Lescott will be returning. In the meantime, how Kompany fares in central defence could be crucial.

As for creative, attacking players, I don't see much happening. Mancini is supposed to be a fan of Cassano so that may be an outside possibility. I don't think Robinho will go, but if he did, then di Maria comes into the picture - though don't expect Martin Petrov to be happy about it!

Danny, Bitter & Blue
It will be interesting to see quite what Mancini does in January, given that he doesn't have a lot of time to get to know the squad and assess what he has. An added problem is that there isn't a holdover of staff to really brief him either so a lot will depend on how good his knowledge of the current players is.

I'm not sure he will add too much in January unless a real stand out player (ie, a David Villa) is available. Defence looks an area that will need strengthening, more out of necessity with the injuries and Toure's unavailability than anything else, but in midfield and attack we are generally well served, so unless he has a chance of landing a player who he knows well from Italy i'm not if he'll add to what we already have.

Jason, This Is Our City
No doubt about it, Mancini will recruit a tall top-class leader at centre-half as we lack height, and a full-back or two as aside from Lescott and Zabaleta, the other options are a stuttering shambles. If Bellamy does want out then possibly another left-winger. My choices would be Maicon, Neven Subotić, Philip Lahm and Angel Di Maria.

Jack, The Lonesome Death of Roy Carroll
First priority is a centre-back. A combination of injuries and the African Cup of Nations have left us with Vincent Kompany as the only option for January, and even with everyone available we look to be missing something. It's possible that we'll go back for Matthew Upson but I think most likely is Mancini dipping into Serie A for a defender. There are some names being linked - Giorgio Chiellini, Simon Kjaer and Iván Córdoba.

I don't know much about Kjaer but I think that size and experience are important, which is why I'd be so keen for us to get Chiellini. Anyone who can take command, organise those around him, and head away balls into the box is fine by me. With Lescott, Onuoha and Toure due to return in February it doesn't have to be a big money player here on the long term, just someone to partner Kompany over the next few weeks. So Córdoba on a six or eighteen month deal is quite conceivable.

Another possibility is at full back. People talk of a crisis at left back but I don't think that Wayne Bridge and Sylvinho are a much worse pair of options that Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards. We could improve on both sides but will struggle to make huge strides in the January market. Maicon won't join us in the summer, never mind in January, so it all depends on whether Mancini has some good players in mind who he believes he can bring to Eastlands in mid-season.

I'm just excited about the prospect of signing players who haven't been playing in the Premier League for the last few years. We really missed out on exoticism with Hughes' recruitment policy. Oh for the days of Javi Garrido and Felipe Caicedo!

Lloyd, Man City Issues
It's a difficult one the January transfer window, it's always hard to sign the very best players because they are normally unwilling to move clubs half-way through the season. However, if they are unhappy with their situations, like Giorgio Chiellini, then you've got a good chance. He's Italian and a real no-nonsense defender - exactly what we need at the moment. He's got good leadership skills and is only 25. Personally, I'd go for him, and I think Mancini might look to Italy for some defensive reinforcements (Kjaer, Corboda, Maicon). Realistically, I think we could get all of those guys apart from Maicon, I don't think he would want to come to City just yet.

Corboda has already expressed his desire to join City and to link up with his old boss Mancini. He's 33 and we would be his last club if he joined us. He's made over 300 appearances for Inter but has fallen down the pecking order under Jose Mourinho. As for Kjaer, he's only 20 and would be one for the future, but we need immediate replacements. It would all depend on whether we think he could step up to the plate immediately.

We are awfully thin in the defence at the moment with Bridge, Lescott and Onouha all out until February. And to add to that, we have Toure leaving for Angola tomorrow. I think we could do with another left-back (maybe Philip Lahm?) and an attacking midfielder (Angel Di Maria?) and then we really would have quality cover in every position.

Wallace, ESPN Soccernet
Interesting question given the diamond formation that Mancini is said to favour. You can make the argument that given the change the club needs a left-back, at least one centre-half, a further midfield enforcer, two creative attacking midfielders and another support striker! Which I can't see happening in the January transfer window because it is rare that high quality players move.

Prior to the Hughes dismissal I was hoping that he would raid the Bundesliga for the Hamburg pair of Joris Mathijsen and Marcell Jansen as City need players that can gel immediately and both played with Kompany and de Jong previously allowing City's back four to be rebuilt given the absence of Toure, Lescott and Bridge. Further I was hoping that Werder Bremen's Per Mertesacker might be on the list as the club could use a tall, young defender. In midfield, Juan Roman Riquelme has been on my wish-list for a long time. These players would fit the culture and style of the team and the current players that City have.

Now... all bets are off. The club is being linked with numerous players from Italy and the indication is that Mancini will strengthen from his knowledge base. My suspicion is that the club will move for three players; a left-back, a centre-half and an attacking midfielder and then try and make the current team fit into what Mancini wants.

The club is being linked with players from all the top Italian teams but unless a player has had a specific falling out with their coach (as Inter's Cordoba is alleged to have done) or is looking for playing time with the World Cup approaching then I believe you can eliminate Milan, Inter and Fiorentina as they are in the Champions League last 16 and similarly while disappointing for the clubs to end up in the Europa League, Juventus and Roma.

So players from Sampdoria, Genoa, Lazio, Parma and Napoli make the most practical sense. For example the rumour that the club is interested in Sampdoria striker Giampaolo Pazzini (or Antonio Cassano) is one of the few that passes the smell test as it were, whilst Giorgio Chiellini with Juventus does not.

It's unfortunate that we're looking at at least a month without three quarters of our first choice defence when, despite silly goals still being conceded, there were small signs that Lescott especially was beginning to find his feet. Him and Toure have looked good in parts, awful in others, but with the right defensive coaching i think both will prove good enough, and there's no arguing with their pedigree.

I'm not convinced that shelling out huge money on another centre-half is the answer, though we must do anything we can to make the season as successful as possible, and January's games could shape our season in all three competitions. Wayne Bridge, whose more high-profile and particularly headless performances have undermined what i thought was an improvement on his last season's form, has never really convinced me in a defensive sense, and any good winger will fancy their chances against Sylvinho.

With this in mind i think the two most obvious areas to be addressed in January are centre-half and left-back. On the left we need someone who brings something neither Bridge or Sylvinho does, no-nonsense tackling and the ability to put an opponent in the stands if necessary. Sadly, there aren't many about. It mightn't be a household name but someone like Stephen Warnock would be okay, though it's unlikely Villa would sell another key player to a rival. He's equally at home defending or attacking, and always impresses me.

Lazio's Stefan Radu may be an option, dubbed the 'new Chivu' he can play both left-back and centre-half. Osasuna's Nacho Monreal, linked with a move here previously, might be one worth keeping an eye on. Sébastien Pocognoli of Dutch champions AZ is a young Belgian no-nonsense defender, or PSV's Erik Pieters a possible alternative. French under-21 captain Mamadou Sakho is another most big clubs are keeping tabs on, he too can play at left-back or centre-half, and has already captained the club on several occasions despite still being in his teens. Marseille's Taye Taiwo has been repeatedly linked. Any of these would be welcome additions to the squad, in my opinion.

As touched on above, we probably need to bring in a centre-half who perhaps isn't seen as a replacement for Toure or Lescott, form depending obviously, but who can steady the ship in the short-term and then be prepared to fight for his place afterwards. We need someone big and commanding, who can organise the likes of Vince, Micah & Zab, so i'd prefer someone with experience of the Premier League and a good command of English. With that in mind i actually don't think Matt Upson would be a bad call. He's played here for years, can organise well, has leadership experience, will be available, and give West Ham's financial predicament won't cost the earth.

If we do look abroad then Uruguayan duo Diego Lugano of Fenerbahce and Diego Godin of Villareal should both be on the radar, both mountanous men who take no prisoners. FC Twente's Douglas has impressed and is in the final year of his deal at the club now managed by Steve McClaren. Hoffenheim's Marvin Compper, Bremen duo Per Mertesacker and Naldo, and Neven Subotic of Dortmund are all impressing in the Bundesliga. Joris Mathijsen could add a bit of steel, and of course City fans will always put forward the name of Daniel van Buyten.

Most likely, of course, is that Mancini reverts to what he knows best and looks to raid Serie A. Fiorentina's Alessandro Gamberini, Phillipe Mexes of Roma, Juve's Giorgio Chiellini, or either of Inter pair Chivu or the menacing Walter Samuel would be welcomed, though how realistic our chances of signing any of those at the present time are is up for debate, and either of the latter three would involve hefty fees.

Elsewhere, i'm pretty happy with our lot. Once we get everyone fit or back from international commitments we have an exciting set of varied attacking options. Rather than bring in another attacking midfielder i hope we can play in a way which gets the best out of Stevie Ireland, because no matter who else we bring in i don't think we'll find anyone who can make us tick quite like he can.

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