Toure’s brief suspension merely a reminder of the huge task on Mancini’s hands of trimming down and refining Manchester City’s overpaid, overpriced squad this summer…
Official Football Association statement:
Manchester City defender Kolo Toure was today suspended following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing at Wembley. Toure was handed a six month suspension, commencing from 2 March 2011 (the date of the start of his provisional suspension). The player is also to be target tested for a period of two years from 26 May 2011.
The FA enclose preliminary written reasons from the Commission Chairman:-
1. The Player Kolo Toure admitted a doping offence contrary to Regulation 3 of the FA Doping Regulations 2010-2011. It is his first offence.
The news that Kolo Toure has been handed just a six-month ban, half of which he has already served, for testing positive for a banned substance will have prompted polar opposite reactions from those involved. As a player he will be delighted at the leniency shown by the FA, but the club themselves may not be as pleased with the brevity of his suspension. Toure’s return is like the arrival of a new signing, but one that Mancini doesn’t necessarily want anymore.
Back in March, the idea of Toure, who at the time was a first-choice centre-back, missing the remainder of the season and possibly half of the next one, was seen as a huge blow to a club in the midst of a battle for Champions League qualification and FA Cup success. But as the season wore on, and the Toure debacle withdrew into the shadows, it became clear that the team were coping without him, in fact results prove that they were not just coping, they were better.
Before Toure was provisionally banned on March 2nd he had appeared 22 times in the Premier League for the club this season, with the team winning just 8 of those games. In his absence Joleon Lescott has performed admirably alongside the outstanding Vincent Kompany and City have gone on to win 12 of their remaining 16 games as the club won the FA Cup and secured Champions League football qualification through a 3rd place finish in the league.
The fact Toure was banned, potentially for a lengthy period stretching well into next season, meant Mancini had one less player to worry about including in his squad each week. His return, after the team performed so well without him, will be greeted with a sigh, rather than the open arms he may have expected. A £16m signing from Arsenal two years ago, Toure’s performances indicate that his career may have already peaked, which leaves Mancini with yet another player on the club’s hugely extravagant payroll who was purchased for a far greater price than his real value, let alone his resale value.
There is an awful lot of deadweight at the club and as the owners have recently suggested, the days of mass spending at Eastlands may be coming to an end. The manager must consider the futures of players like Toure, Wayne Bridge, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Craig Bellamy, all of whom are either in or approaching their thirties while there are also a number of players at the club who are clearly surplus to his requirements, with the likes of Jo, Felipe Caicedo, Michael Johnson and Jerome Boateng all failing to impress the Italian.
The club’s interest in Bolton’s England international Gary Cahill appears firm and his signing would provide Lescott with competition to partner Kompany at the back and due to his relative youth, compared to Toure, would be a far more attractive player for Mancini.
By securing Champions League football for next season City will now be able to attract pretty much whoever they please. Where before they could offer huge salaries and the prospect of an enticing Europa League away leg against Aris Salonika… now they can offer the chance to compete for the European game’s modern-day Holy Grail, the Champions
League. The quality of their squad will need to be refined in order for the club to compete with European football’s elite, which inevitably spells the end of players like Jo and Wayne Bridge’s stays at the club.
Whatever Mancini decides to do with Kolo Toure, the size of the task he has at selling on a large group of players who bought to the club for far higher fees than he could ever imagine recouping, and are paid astronomical wages that few clubs can match, is one that few managers will envy.
Over to you Roberto.