Ask any Red what has been United’s main problem this season and almost everyone will tell you that the central midfield area has at times left a lot to be desired.
City’s midfield on the other hand has been one of, if not THE strongest in the league, mainly thanks to the form of Yaya Toure. The Ivorian has been immense and I for one am not too proud to admit that he’s the type of player United are crying out for.
The Telegraph notes:
The Ivory Coast have rejected Manchester City’s request to allow Kolo and Yaya Toure to travel late to the Africa Cup of Nations, which means both will miss Sunday’s Manchester derby in the FA Cup.
Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui says that City must release both players on time, despite being asking for special dispensation for them to stay in England long enough to take part in the FA Cup third round tie against Manchester United.
Fifa rules dictate that players can be called into their national squad up to two weeks before the competition starts on 21 January.
Earlier today, City manager Roberto Mancini expressed the hope that the pair would be allowed to join the Ivory Coast squad for this month’s African Nations Cup slightly later than planned, which would allow them to feature in the third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium.
Mancini said he expected to learn within 24 hours whether the Tourés would be excused a planned squad gathering in Paris on Saturday before they fly to Abu Dhabi for a two week training camp. City were unaware of any official developments this lunchtime.
However, Ivory Coast coach Zahoui has apparently said no.
Last night’s defeat against Newcastle merely highlighted the problems United have had in central midfield as Giggs and Carrick struggled to cope with the energy of the likes of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye.
Part of the problem last night was that Phil Jones, who’s been colossal in midfield in recent weeks, was forced to play in defence due to United’s catastrophic defensive injury crisis.
With Gareth Barry suspended and Owen Hargreaves rather unsurprisingly on the injury list, United may actually have the edge in the midfield battle which could decide the game.