It’s been a fairly disappointing offseason for New York City FC. With little communication from the club’s hierarchy, fans were left to speculate what big blockbuster signing would be coming through the door.
Instead, apart from a deafening silence, fans saw the unexpected departure of club favorite and captian, Alexander Ring. His move to Austin FC will have hurt the locker room but City happen to be quite rich in the midfield department with the likes of Nicolás Acevedo, Keaton Parks and James Sands mustering up significant game time and impressing while doing so.
Other notable departures include Ronald Matarrita, who joined FC Cincinnati and Gary Mackay-Stevens who joined Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Championship. Both players were often divisive and controversial amongst the City faithful. Matarrita is an adventurous fullback but City fans will remember him for his woeful defending abilities and poor decision making. No moment sums up Matarrita’s career at City better than his decision to give away a clumsy penalty to Toronto FC late into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Meanwhile Mackay-Stevens is a winger who never really settled down at the club. His decision making in the final third was consistently frustrating. While their departures might not spell doom and gloom, it’s the lack of ambition to secure a goal-scoring talent that has been difficult to endure.
Late last season, just as Alexandru Mitrita was in inspired form, he was loaned out to Al-Ahli Saudi FC. Much of the goal-scoring responsibility fell to Valentín Castellanos who performed admirably but fell well short of the mark. Even Castellanos has been linked with a loan move to Brazilian side Palmeiras, leaving City with just one striker, Héber.
Héber’s fitness and form are massive gambles that apparently City are willing to take. It remains to be seen whether or not the club will be signing a true number 9 when the transfer market effectively opens February 10 but based on recent dealings, it seems unlikely. With the European transfer market closed, any hopes of signing a player with the résumé of Sergio Aguero, Florian Thauvin or Mesut Ozil have all but dwindled away. The atmosphere at the club has not been great either with a number of first-team players underperforming and fans having to endure another humiliating first-round exit in the playoffs. It’s a far cry from a club that not so long ago dreamed of signing Lionel Messi.
Instead City fans will be empathizing with another club across the Atlantic Ocean. Over in France, Olympique de Marseille and their board are experiencing justifiable pressure after plenty of off-field antics. Their head-coach at the time, Andre Villas-Boas had stated in a press conference he had submitted a resignation request after the club signed a player he insisted on not having in his squad.
Andre Villas-Boas has offered his resignation as manager of Marseille pic.twitter.com/s0hFPlmbV6— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 2, 2021
The meltdown is reminiscent of when Domé Torrent decided to leave the club after City Football Group was gracious enough to gift him his seventh-choice striker.
While there will be plenty of time to turn things around in the MLS transfer market, Ronny Deila and the fans deserve a lot more transparency from the board. It used to be that fans would lament the lack of news on a possible stadium location. Now it seems that CFG hardly have any interest in backing their coach or developing a team that can progress deeper into the playoffs.