Man City dressing room advantage over rivals is clear in Nathan Ake comment – Alex Brotherton
When a footballer finds themselves out of the team and spending a lot of time on the bench, the response is the same at most clubs.
In 99 per cent of cases, a player who isn’t playing is unhappy, so they will speak to their coach about the lack of minutes. If they don’t see a way to get back into the team, they will ask to leave.
At Manchester City that’s not always the case, and Nathan Ake is the latest example. Since City signed the Dutch defender from Bournemouth in 2020 for £40m, Ake has not played anywhere near as much football as he would have liked.
READ MORE:Nathan Ake declares stance on Man City exit amid Newcastle transfer reports
His first season at the club was decimated by injury, meaning he made just 13 appearances in all competitions. This season he improved a lot, particularly in the latter stages in the season when he filled in at centre-back and left-back during City’s injury crisis.
Ake made 27 appearances in all competitions in 2021/22, but he is still firmly behind Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones in Pep Guardiola’s centre-back pecking order.
A number of club’s have taken note of Ake’s tricky situation, primarily Newcastle. Magpies boss Eddie Howe – who managed Ake at Bournemouth – is a big admirer of the defender, but Newcastle could be put off by City’s reported asking price of £50m.
Despite the speculation though, the 27-year-old has declared he has no intention of leaving City and intends to fight for more minutes next season.
“Last season was very unhappy due to injuries, I don’t really count that year,” he told NOS. “This season I was really 100 per cent present and I played more. You notice an improvement in yourself, how you play. I felt good.
“I will go into the season with that intention. I will do everything I can to play even more.”
Ake’s stance is not only admirable — he wants to work to try and make the most of his opportunity, rather than quit and take another big pay day — but it also shows the kind of characters and personalities City like to fill the dressing room with.
There are no prima donnas at the Etihad Stadium, no spoilt players who spit their dummies out when they find themselves out of the starting line-up. While individual targets and game time obviously matter, the good of the team is paramount, with people like Ake willing to play whatever role is asked of them.
Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain and City’s scouting department have created a hungry and motivated dressing room full of players not just eager to win trophies, but to improve as a team and individuals too. They know the solution to not playing is to work harder, not throw a tantrum.
It’s clear that players just love being at City. Research into a player’s personality and character is a big part of the scouting process, meaning that City have a dressing room full of elite players who, while ultimately are competing for each other’s jobs, want to help each other to succeed.
It’s no surprise that Ake does not want to leave — he has the hunger to improve and fight for his place, and clearly sees City as one of the best places in the world to work. That dressing room culture is something that marks City out ahead of plenty of other clubs.
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