Manchester City bounced back from their defeat to Liverpool with a narrow 2-1 victory over Burnley yesterday. Just like the scoreline, it was a tense and tight affair. Gael Clichy and Sergio Aguero got their names on the scoresheet but the headlines fell to Fernandinho, who picked up a straight red card in the 32nd minute after an awful two-footed tackle on Burley midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
The 31-year-old is set to serve a four-match ban and it seems to be routine as it’s the third time in his last six appearances he has been given the marching order. Back in November, he was booted out from the pitch in the 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League and in City’s 3-1 defeat to Chelsea at home, the Brazilian was involved in a tussle with Cesc Fabregas nearing the closing stages and picked up a red. Being the second sending off in domestic contests, no doubt he won’t be available for four fixtures. Consistency that is clearly not doing his manager and team any favour.
He will miss the third round FA Cup clash away to West Ham and league fixtures against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and once again the Hammers. Fernandinho isn’t a messiah in midfielder yet does his role quite well. The Citizens have a surplus of quality in attack and the ideal reason they have been fleeing with freedom up front is Fernandinho’s rough and tough duty right behind them. Not the brawniest of all yet he has shown the ability to cow powerful attackers with 35 interceptions, 31 appearances and 4 blocks so far this season. And such silly tackles only eclipses his positive contributions straight away.
Among the aforementioned fixtures, the trickiest test for Pep Guardiola is when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Etihad Stadium as both clubs are pitting against each other to surge into the top four. With the likes of Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembélé and Moussa Sissoko anchoring the centre of the park and a forward line that has found their scoring boots once again, the former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder will be hugely missed.
Besides that, Manchester City are struggling to play sleek football from the back just like Guardiola wants and without the shield of Fernandinho, things could turn worse. Into the January transfer window already, perhaps the Catalan could throw some money to solve the problem but options seem to be limited.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss did mention that he can’t control anything that happens on the pitch when asked about Fernandinho’s marching order.
“Ask the referee – not me. We will play without Fernandinho. We try to play football. I cannot control the circumstances,” Guardiola explained, as quoted by City’s official website.
“We wanted to win the game. When you play 10 against 11, sometimes you just defend but I wanted to make counter-attacks with Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero and we did it.
“These players deserve support. We are going to try to play better but we need the support. I want more. We are aware of the problems we’ve had, [as I have been] adapting in this league.
“We are going to learn again and we are there. We won a difficult game and it will be tough for everybody with the Champions League and the FA Cup.
“It’s always important to win the games. Game by game, we will try to play as well as possible. The players deserve credit and my respect. I love them.”
Even after the Brazilian returns from suspension, he needs to walk on a tightrope or lose his starting position once and for all. Fernando will be looked to fill his compatriot’s void.