Why Aleksandar Kolarov Is Such A Vital Component Within Manuel Pellegrini’s Man City

Kolarov Man City

It’s amazing to think that just five and a half years ago Aleksandar Kolarov was playing in a talented Lazio side that featured the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Eliseu, Mauro Zarate, Matuzalem, Goran Pandev, Fernando Muslera and Tommaso Rocchi. While all of these players have now departed the club, none of them have enjoyed a better rub of the green than Kolarov since his £16 million switch to Manchester City back in 2010.

Even though Kolarov’s time in England hasn’t always been smooth sailing, his stay has undoubtedly been far more positive than negative. His trophy collection evidences this suitably, with the Serbian already taking home two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one Community Shield during his stay in Manchester. No doubt quite an upgrade on his solitary Coppa Italia triumph and his one Italian Super Cup title.

In his quest for further accolades this season, Kolarov has arguably been the outstanding left-back in the Premier League so far this term. With Kolarov, battles with inconsistency have become inherent, but when he’s on, which he has been more often than not this campaign, he’s a simply irresistible force.

It’s been great to see the 30-year-old carry his dazzling form from the back end of last season into the current one. And in City’s recent EPL fixture against Ronald Koeman’s Southampton, Kolarov’s tireless running power, aggression, attacking impetus and ability to link up with his mates on the left all combined to see him have a major impact on the contest.

It’s been encouraging to see Kolarov’s relationship with Raheem Sterling develop nicely this season, and the pair once again coalesced effectively on the night. The duo found another partner in crime out on the left, however, as Fabian Delph, who’s recently returned from injury to play as City’s left sided central midfielder, also worked together brilliantly with the dynamic duo.

They most definitely formed a troublesome trio for Southampton, who struggled to come to grips with their delightful link up play in close proximity out on this flank. Out of position Saints right-back, Maya Yoshida, and their right-winger, Sadio Mane, couldn’t handle the way the threesome overloaded the left, with Sterling and Delph’s buzzing movement and nifty combinations ensuring they always pulled apart Southampton’s defensive shape and created oceans of space for Kolarov to exploit.

Staggeringly, all three men combined with one another on a whopping 42 occasions in City’s 3-1 triumph.

Another facet of Kolarov’s exertions that made him such a weapon was his relentless work-rate. Whether it be on the attacking or defensive end, he tirelessly motored up and down the touchline all game long. Relentless in his desire to help the cause, his sublimely well taken volley on 69 minutes, which arrived after he sprinted the length of the pitch in order to get into position to receive Kevin De Bruyne’s tasty delivery, was a perfect reward for his tireless approach.

With Southampton’s right winger for much of the match, Mane, always keen to drift centrally, whenever a turnover occured Kolarov would burst forward at frightening speed into the acres of vacant space. With the away side’s defenders usually occupied by City’s other attackers, Kolarov’s speed to join in counter attacking scenarios was a constant theme, and one that gave City another dimension going forward. This element of his armoury adds another layer of confusion to already unset, disorganised defences getting hit in transition, and vs. Soton this was no different.

Kolarov’s searing pace also greatly benefited his fellow defensive colleagues, especially Nicolas Otamendi, Man City’s left sided centre-back, for in instances where Shane Long slipped in behind, Kolarov could jet across and cover for the slower Otamendi to cut out any danger.

In customary fashion, the aggressive fullback flew into his defensive challenges, both on the ground and in the air, with desire and brute force, making his opposition earn everything that came their way. Some could even say he gets a touch agricultural in the challenge, which is actually quite fitting, as Kolarov actually owns three tractors and a farm back home in Serbia.

For the man who’s averaging a splendid 2.4 clearances, 1.7 aerials duels won per game, 1.6 interceptions pg, 1.2 tackles pg, plus nearly two shots and two key passes pg, these numbers further illustrate what an indispensable member of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad he is.

Although he had a rough outing vs. Stoke City in the Sky Blues’ disappointing 2-0 defeat at the weekend, this shouldn’t take away from what’s been a tremendous start to the season from Kolarov.

He can certainly be satisfied with his all he’s achieved since joining the club from Lazio half a decade ago now. At only 30, there’s still plenty of time for the resolute Kolarov to enhance his legacy and add to his already bulging trophy cabinet. At City, he’s just about at the perfect club to do precisely that.

His former Eagles teammates will undoubtedly be envious of what a stellar career he’s had in England.