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Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 14:07 UK

Sven's signings - hits or misses?

By Jon Barbuti


During his one season at Eastlands, Sven Goran Eriksson spent more than 30m of owner Thaksin Shinawatra 's personal fortune, buying 10 players, including eight in pre-season.

The tactic appeared to pay instant dividends as the City players, despite barely knowing each others' first names, won at Upton Park on the opening day of the season and then beat local rivals United.

However, as the season drew on, some of the signings appeared to struggle as the intensity of a Premiership season took its toll and the likes of Sun Jihai, Michael Ball and Darius Vassell came in from the cold to take their places.

So, dipping into Sven's mixed bag of signings, we run the rule over the 10 players who came to (or in one case merely passed through) Eastlands.

ROLANDO BIANCHI

Rolando Bianchi
Having decided that Georgios Samaras and Darius Vassell were unlikely to fire City into Europe, Eriksson made a centre forward his priority and quickly brought in Bianchi from Reggina for 8.8m.

A former Italy under-21 international, Bianchi came with a proven pedigree having scored 18 times in Serie A the previous season. And he got his own and City's season off to the perfect start, scoring 18 minutes into his debut as the Blues won 2-0 at West Ham.

However, that was to prove a false dawn and the Italian didn't score again in the league until almost four months later having fallen out of favour and seen his starting appearances severely restricted.

Two more league goals followed, but then he went seven matches without scoring and found himself shipped out on loan to Lazio.

VERDICT: MISS

GEOVANNI

Geovanni
A free signing, Brazilian midfielder Geovanni had a great pedigree, having once been an 11m signing for Barcelona.

Like Bianchi, the 28-year-old got off to the perfect start by scoring in City's opening day win. When he followed that up with the only goal as City won August's Manchester derby, cult hero status seemed assured.

And although it is unfair to judge him purely on his goal output, the fact that he followed up two in three with just one strike in his next 20 matches is perhaps indicitive of how his season faded after so promising a start.

VERDICT: MISS

ELANO

Elano
In the heady days of August, with City playing attacking football and city rivals United slain, Elano was a blue god.

Fanciful as it seems now, there was a real sense that the Brazilian playmaker might just manage to achieve the impossible and lead City into the Premiership's promised land of the top four.

606: DEBATE
Sven4Primeminister

But like so many City players, his form seemingly went on a downwards curve, though Eriksson's increasingly negative tactics - often brought on by lack of squad depth - hardly helped.

Elano also admitted to struggling on the heavy winter pitches, but the advent of spring brought an upturn in form.

He also showed his versatility by filling in and excelling at right back, a position he has played for Brazil, to help the Blues out of their defensive crisis.

VERDICT: MORE HIT THAN MISS

GELSON FERNANDES

Gelson
The young Swiss midfielder has played in both defence and midfield and is becoming an increasingly integral member of the squad.

Already a full international, the 22-year-old has the potential to become a top quality Premiership player, but if a raft of new players were to arrive he could find himself squeezed out at City.

Could perhaps do with slightly more composure on the ball, but in a midfield boasting the mercurial talents of Elano and Petrov his workrate is a key ingredient.

VERDICT: HIT

MARTIN PETROV

Martin Petrov
A talented left winger, Petrov arrived from Athletico Madrid in a 4.7m deal.

Having already established himself as a first team regular thanks to his passing and vision, Petrov showed his finishing quality with three goals in a week in late September.

As the season has progressed, his defensive frailties have been exposed at times, but he remains one of the first names on the City teamsheet.

VERDICT: HIT

JAVIER GARRIDO

Javier Garrido
Garrido, like City, has enjoyed a season of two distinct halves. Up until mid December he was a virtual regular at left back. But, in 2008, he has found himself playing second fiddle to former England international Michael Ball.

However, Garrido was a relative snip at 1.5m and aged just 23 can be allowed time to settle into the Premiership, though he needs to learn to match attacking flair with defensive endeavour.

VERDICT: HIT (JUST ABOUT)

VEDRAN CORLUKA

Vedran Corluka
Like Garrido, Corluka has a bright future in front of him, but unlike the Spaniard there is no need to use the word 'qualified' in describing his success.

Decent at centre back, excellent at right back, Corluka has been a key component in a City defence which has improved markedly from previous seasons' vintages. Already an experienced Croatian international, Corluka is what can best be described as solid.

He doesn't score goals, he doesn't set up too many, but he can certainly tackle.

VERDICT: HIT

VALERI BOJINOV

Valeri Bojinov
Bojinov might just have been the man who would have fired City into Europe - sadly we'll never know as his season was curtailed by injury after just three games.

Aged 23 he has plenty of time in the future to show City fans his quality.

VERDICT: IMPOSSIBLE TO JUDGE

FELIPE CAICEDO

Felipe Caicedo
The 19-year-old Ecuadorian striker is clearly one for the future having signed from Basle for 5.2m in January. To date he has only made brief substitute appearances, but has shown flashes of quality.

However, he finds vying with academy product Daniel Sturridge for valuable first team experience.

VERDICT: HIT. NO, MISS, ERR, HIT

BENJANI

Benjani
Benjani very nearly didn't sign after reportedly falling asleep at the airport, missing his flight and subsequent medical.

Fortunately for City, he has looked more awake on the pitch, with his derby winner at Old Trafford making him an instant fans' favourite.

Had a slow start to life at Eastlands, but goals in his last two matches suggest he is finding his feet. A proven goalscorer in the Premiership, he should spearhead City's attack next season.

VERDICT: A HIT (JUST ABOUT)


see also
The end of Eriksson's era
29 Apr 08 |  Man City
Eriksson to be sacked by Man City
29 Apr 08 |  Man City


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