Robin Sainty: Klose and Zimmermann the perfect pair ahead of cheerleader Tim
PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 November 2018
"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles."
So said one of the most successful managers of recent times, Sir Alex Ferguson, and whilst we all savoured Emi Buendia’s match-winning piece of South American brilliance last Saturday, this was a rare game in which City didn’t dominate possession and had to rely on a solid shift from their back four to shut out an enterprising Brentford team.
Like most fans I was devastated when I learnt that Grant Hanley would be missing for a couple of months, but now it’s hard to see how Daniel Farke will be able to break up the partnership of Timm Klose and Christophe Zimmermann, unless injury or suspension intervenes.
Last season City’s defending was often frenetic and last ditch, with desperate bodies being thrown into the path of shots, but this time around it’s all much more serene with the back four working together as a well-oiled unit.
Klose and Zimmermann seem to have developed an almost telepathic understanding which means that if one is beaten the other is invariably there to tidy up, and the less experienced partner is now reading the game almost as well as the seasoned international.
Whilst there has been much praise for the 18-pass move that ended in City’s winner against Villa, it’s worth pointing out that it started when Conor Hourihane attempted to play a through ball to Scott Hogan, only for Klose to calmly pick it off just outside his own box and start the attack, and that has been a consistent theme this season, with interceptions, particularly by the full-backs, swiftly turning defence into attack, perhaps the biggest factor in City’s greater fluency when going forward this season.
By his own admission, Klose struggled to adapt in his first Championship season, when he often struggled to cope with the more physical strikers, and he had his vulnerable moments last year too, but he is now preventing, creating and scoring goals with equal aplomb, and clearly having the time of his life doing so.
It’s also important to note the role of Tim Krul in City’s defensive parsimony. Not only has he pulled off some great saves at key moments (particularly at Derby and Forest) but he is now directing proceedings in front of him with the sort of confidence he showed in his Newcastle days, whilst also cheerleading the crowd. It’s great to see.
City’s periods of success have always coincided with having a big personality in goal and Krul is now starting to fit that bill and doesn’t hesitate to admonish mistakes, even from the more experienced players.
City’s momentum will not have been halted by Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat. In fact, the game was further proof of how deeply embedded Farke’s system now is at the club.
Despite fielding a team with eight changes from Saturday, City replicated the same confident passing game which has brought so much Championship success, and whilst the back-up players inevitably lacked a little sharpness, they still did enough to have won the game with better finishing, despite Eddie Howe putting out a very strong Bournemouth side, and his fulsome post-match praise was further testimony to what Farke is now achieving at City.
Mario Vrancic, in particular, will have done his cause no harm with a dominant performance and Ben Godfrey once again demonstrated his huge potential, so while the failure to progress will sting, it will hopefully result in an even stronger desire to return from Hillsborough, the scene of an awful final-day capitulation last season, with all three points.
The start of November is too early for talk of promotion, but the strength in depth of the squad (particularly with Hanley, Louis Thompson and Kenny McLean still to return) and the confidence with which City are playing is already starting to make plenty of people outside Norfolk sit up and take notice.