Scapegoating is easy. It’s also dumb. Eliaquim Mangala is increasingly becoming the scapegoat of Manchester City’s season thus far, and there’s no good reason for that.
There is a very clear line between frustration and scapegoating, and there are City fans who are using Mangala as a scapegoat, which is both not fair or reasonable. Eliaquim Mangala is not responsible for Yaya Toure’s decline in ability. Eliaquim Mangala is not responsible for injuries to Alexander Kolarov, Edin Dzeko or David Silva. Nor is Eliaquim Mangala responsible for the fact that Chelsea has an absolutely fantastic squad this season.
Frustration over a red card and less than inspiring performances to start his City career are understandable. City faces a serious challenge for winning the title again in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea squad. The last thing they want is someone with no Premier League experience making mistakes left and right while Chelsea still haven’t lost a game.
It’s very important to note that Mangala’s second yellow that led to his red card was not his fault. Mangala was put in a terribly uncomfortable position after Yaya Toure carelessly lost the ball to Shane Long. If Toure doesn’t lose the ball, Mangala isn’t sent off.
It’s easy to look at Mangala’s price tag of almost 32 million pounds and wonder who thought he was worth that much. But Mangala didn’t command that price tag just for the center-back he is now. City splashed the cash for someone who can start for the team and be a stalwart at the back for years to come. He’s only 23 years old, and still has plenty of room to grow. Time will tell if he’s actually worth 32 million pounds. But evaluating him based on 704 minutes of game time between the Champions League, Premier League and League Cup is foolish. He might not be worth 32 million pounds right now. But City didn’t pay 32 million pounds for a one year loan.
You’d think City fans learned their lesson last year to be careful when channeling all of their frustrations on a center back.
On February 18th, 2014, Manchester City finally got the monkey of their back, making the round of 16 in the Champions League, only to be drawn against Barcelona. In the 54th minute, Lionel Messi is through on goal. Martin Demichelis makes a sliding challenge on his fellow countryman, but fails to get the ball. He concedes a penalty for denying a clear goal scoring chance, and is sent off. At that moment, all City fans including myself were wondering what use Demichelis had. He was unbelievably slow and really seemed to be largely useless.
Less than a month later, Vincent Kompany saw red at the KC Stadium against Hull City inside ten minutes. Demichelis had the best game of his City tenure as City kept a clean sheet and won 2-0. The Hull game led to a run of good form that seemed to last all the way to City winning the Premier League. Scapegoating does no one any good and Demichelis is the prime example that a scapegoat can quickly become a hero.
Mangala hasn’t gotten off to the best start for City. But turning him into a scapegoat is not the right way to go about it.