McClaren warns City: Dzeko may struggle for rest of the season
Steve McClaren, the manager who sanctioned Edin Dzeko's £27m sale to Manchester City, believes the striker may not reach his peak until next season, a conclusion that Dzeko's current manager Roberto Mancini badly needs to see the Bosnian disprove in the fight for a top-four Premier League place.
Dzeko struggled for his touch when coming on in last Saturday's Manchester derby and also against Aris Salonika in the Europa League this week, prompting Mancini to declare: "I expect more from him", and to compare the 24-year-old's acclimatisation problems to those of Fernando Torres at Chelsea.
"I think maybe – and I hope for Roberto Mancini's sake that it will be this season – that it may be that you see the best of Edin Dzeko next season," McClaren said. "I think that Edin, once he learns to settle in England and adapts to the English system, will be a major force, certainly among the strikers. He has all the attributes to be a hit in England. They have got so many good strikers there at Manchester City that of course it will take him time to bed in but I think that he is a player that will be really suited to the Premier League. But you do have to remember that sometimes not all of them settle in automatically."
Mancini first moved for Dzeko last summer after City concluded that Torres would not leave Liverpool at that time and McClaren, who was dismissed by Wolfsburg earlier this month after a poor first half to the season, insisted that the club's investment may be proved wise. "He is very good technically and has very good feet. In some ways he reminds me of a much taller Mark Viduka. Mark was so brilliant in the box and, for such a big guy, he had amazing technical skills. Edin is very much the same. But given that Edin is a lot taller than Mark, I reckon that his physical presence will be a lot more telling in the Premier League."
After City's defeat in the Manchester derby, Mancini dismissed suggestions Dzeko would not be the finished article until next season, insisting: "We have three months."
Mario Balotelli's encouraging 12-minute cameo in Greece on Tuesday offered some hope that he will also settle after a prolonged absence with a knee injury. The Italian striker is expected to start against Notts County in the FA Cup fourth-round replay on Sunday afternoon.
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