Kevin De Bruyne’s absence hints at Manchester City being a ‘one-man team’

Manchester City's form dips considerably when Kevin de Bruyne is not on the pitch - as seen in his side's shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan Athletic. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Kevin De Bruyne’s absence hints at Manchester City being a ‘one-man team’

LONDON: Considering last week it was reported that they have the most expensive squad in history, it may seem strange to suggest that Manchester City are a one-man team. But on the evidence of their shock FA Cup exit to Wigan that is exactly what they appear to be.
Any game that Pep Guardiola starts without Kevin De Bruyne is viewed as a bit of a gamble, and despite Wigan being stuck in League One — two divisions below City — that was never more apparent than on Monday night. With their Belgian talisman sat on the bench City started hesitantly and Wigan were able to stand up to the team that has steamrollered over opponents this season. In attack the moneybags club stuttered and at times the minnows looked comfortable in dealing with the threat Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Leroy Sane — all world-class payers — posed.
It was not until 60 minutes that De Bruyne got on the pitch as as soon as he did it was clear for all to see that he was the man his teammates sought out, looking for him at every opportunity. Whereas in the first hour City looked short of ideas, for the final 30 minutes they looked sharp and the Belgian was at the heart of everything good about their play.
While the idea that they are a one-man team may be viewed as far-fetched — they have not virtually won the Premier League already based on one player — it is clear that they do rely too much on De Bruyne. And if that is apparent against a side like Wigan then it will be only too obvious against much better teams of the caliber they will face in the later stages of the Champions League.
City’s search for four trophies is already over, but unless they can work out how to win without a fit and firing De Bruyne they can already say goodbye to the idea of European glory.


‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 15 December 2018
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‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.