Much was made about Wilfried Bony’s £25m plus switch to Manchester City in January and understandably so. The Ivorian’s move from Swansea was undoubtedly the major transfer in a rather underwhelming January window in England.
Bony, 26, had been nothing short of a revelation at his previous club Swansea, notably notching up 18 goals in 2014 – making the him the league’s highest scorer for that period. That achievement looks all the better when you considered the list of names he scored more than – the likes of Aguero, Rooney and Sturridge.
So when his big move to City came about, there was a lot of expectation and pressure on the former Vitesse powerhouse. Now having turned out on ten occasions for the Blues, it would be fair to say that Bony is yet to really light up the Etihad thus far.
On the face of things, a return of just the one goal in his tenure up to this point is incredibly disappointing but it would be ridiculously naive to write Bony off already. Although the statistics are unimpressive, that’s not to say that he has been totally ineffective. In fact, there have been plenty of positive signs hinting that ‘Daddy Cool’ can indeed be a highly useful and dependable player for City in the near future.
First and foremost, the timing of the transfer certainly hasn’t helped his cause. Not only was he in preparation for the upcoming African Cup of Nations tournament upon signing for the club, but when he did eventually arrive in Manchester, the team weren’t in the best patch of form.
They were exposed at home to Hull, before picking up two impressive wins over Stoke and then Newcastle – where Bony made his debut. He was ineffective as a substitute in defeats to Barcelona and Liverpool, but you could hardly attach much blame to the Ivorian. Two high-intensity games in quick succession really dented his hopes of asserting himself with impact.
But in the following game against Leicester, with City still not at their most swift nor deadly, Bony looked sharp in attack alongside Aguero. He got into some great areas and linked play impressively at times. He was extremely unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet.
Another freak game at Burnley was next, where he was again subjected to a late cameo from the bench, before he was selected for a similar sort of role against a breathtaking Barcelona side, who have now reached the Champions League.
A frustrating run for a player who desperately wanted to prove his worth at a higher level. It made it all the more pleasing to see Bony get the nod for the routine win over West Brom – it being no surprise to see him flourish when the side had much more energy, conviction and service. He set City on their way to a cruising win when he forced the error which culminated in Gareth McCauley’s wrongly awarded card, before opening his City account with an excellently-taken strike on the half-volley.
Unfortunately however, City returned back to the sluggish slump they had been in and underperformed consecutively against Crystal Palace, and in the all-important derby clash at Old Trafford – both games in which Bony was absent with an injury. Had he been fit, you may have thought his physicality could possibly have come in handy.
Such a blip prompted Pellegrini to switch things around for the next run of games and that seemed to push Bony aside even more. Nevertheless, the irresistible form of Sergio Aguero has inspired City to four straight wins since the derby, and as we know it’s hard to change a winning formula.
In last weekend’s drubbing of QPR, Bony was handed a decent spell of game-time from the bench and demonstrated just why City forked out such a sum of money on him. His combination play with the mercurial magician David Silva and the unbelievable Aguero was scintillating. His powerful presence meshed perfectly with the pair’s more skilful styles. You only need to look at the final goal from Silva to see such chemistry. Aguero shifting on to Bony, who exquisitely played in Silva – who did the rest. More of the same please.
Though he hasn’t had the impact we would have liked, Bony is no City misfit by any stretch. Had it not been for a bit of bad luck, inspired goalkeeping and the talents of Aguero as a sole striker, his City story may well have gone differently. His record aside, he has been quietly impressive in the short time we have seen him in action and has taken an active role in the games he has played – unlike someone like Dzeko whose form has faltered massively in this campaign. Brimming with power and unparalleled strength, he could become a player in the Negredo mould whereby he brings the best out of Aguero. With a little patience and confidence instilled from his manager, we will see Bony hit the ground running next season.