Leicester City have something Manchester United do not that can make big clubs’ cast-offs a hit

It was not so long ago that Leicester City felt a little like Manchester United’s B team.

City provided a home for the players that could not make the grade at Old Trafford, with Danny Drinkwater, Ritchie De Laet, Matty James, and Tom Lawrence all signed in a short period. Given the success of the first three transfers, it was a fruitful partnership the club had built.

Since then, City have risen the ranks and are now an occasional challenger to United in the top half of the Premier League table. Over the past three seasons, City have finished four, eight, and six points behind the Red Devils.

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Battling in the same area of ​​the table, it feels like City have outgrown the point where they could take United’s cast-offs and improve. But it’s not quite that simple.

City have been linked with a move for United midfielder James Garner this weekend following an impressive 18-month spell with Nottingham Forest. It culminated in the 21-year-old setting up the winning goal in the play-off final at Wembley on Sunday.

The talk in Manchester is that Garner will be given a chance in pre-season to prove to new manager Erik ten Hag he is worth a place in their first-team squad. But the reports say that if he can not do that, then City will be keen to take him.

When there is such a small difference between the clubs in terms of points gained over recent seasons, it feels like it should not be a move City look at. If United deem Garner is not quite good enough for them, these days that should mean he is not quite good enough for City either, right?

But, importantly, it’s not always the case that United players let go are not good enough. It’s that they do not have the patience to wait for them to succeed.

At Old Trafford, there is an overwhelming pressure for glory. Titles are the target every season. And that means players have to be immediate hits.

It’s not quite the same at City. While Brendan Rodgers is trying to develop a mentality in the squad where there is a desire to win and to keep winning, a trophyless season is not automatically an underwhelming season. Players can take a year to bed in. They can take a few seasons to reach their peaks.

Take Kelechi Iheanacho, for example. There was not the patience at Manchester City to let him develop, and so they signed Gabriel Jesus to be Sergio Aguero’s back-up. While Iheanacho and Jesus were similar ages, the Brazilian had had a couple of seasons of regular football in his homeland and was more well-rounded.

So Iheanacho was available and was bought by City. There was not the pressure on him to fire in the goals immediately, which was a good job. He probably could not have had a 12-month goal drought at Man City and still been in favor, but he came through such a period at the King Power Stadium and it paid off in the long run, the Nigerian’s goals crucial in the club’s FA Cup success last season.

Rodgers is fully aware of the situation at the biggest clubs, and believes it is something his side can exploit in the market, bringing in players who are on the fringes of the squads at the wealthiest clubs. He said earlier this year: “That’s the natural path for some players at big clubs. I heard Jurgen (Klopp, Liverpool manager) talk the other week about the squad, how they’ve got so many good players and it’s really difficult to keep so many good players happy.

“I saw that at Chelsea as a young coach with Jose (Mourinho). There was a squad of 25, and they are 25 top international players. It’s impossible to keep them all happy.

“Eventually they want to play football because that’s why they love the game. They love the game when the stands are full and they’re performing.

“That’s always a market for a club like ourselves, looking at some of those clubs. But again, it always has to be players who have the hunger, and still want to learn. But that’s clearly a market, yeah. ”

City are keen on Chelsea center-back Levi Colwill, and he is another who falls under the Garner bracket. They were also linked to winger Callum Hudson-Odoi last summer. So while City are trying to bridge the gap to the clubs at the top, their patience could see them take advantage and use the top six’s players against them.

Do you think Garner would be the right fit for City? Let us know your thoughts on the club’s transfer plans in the comments below.


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