It was interesting to see how debutants Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson fitted into the Manchester City team against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.
Vieira’s height, style and defensive qualities suggested that he would compete with the similarly equipped Nigel de Jong for a midfield holding role alongside Gareth Barry, but against Bolton all three lined up together. Vieira played on the right-hand side of a midfield trio in a position usually occupied by Stephen Ireland and although the Frenchman does not share Ireland’s attacking qualities, he nonetheless picked out Emmanuel Adebayor with a fine pass for City’s brilliant second goal.
Johnson, meanwhile, started on the right wing despite having forged his reputation at Middlesbrough as a left-sided player. He is very left-footed, but Roberto Mancini has already demonstrated with Martin Petrov that he wants his wide players to switch flanks and Shaun Wright-Phillips may therefore have to compete with Carlos Tévez and Craig Bellamy to win back his place in the side.
The diagram below, a screenshot from ESPN Soccernet, shows the City players’ average positions from the 2-0 win over Bolton. Vieira (24) and Johnson (11) have been highlighted.
City’s other squad numbers are as follows: 1. Shay Given; 3. Wayne Bridge; 5. Pablo Zabaleta; 8. Wright-Phillips (substitute); 16. Sylvinho (substitute); 18. Barry; 19. Joleon Lescott (substitute); 25. Adebayor; 28. Kolo Touré; 32. Tévez; 33. Vincent Kompany.