Youngster's development blighted by injuries
Jose Pozo confirmed his departure from the club to Almeria tonight, and if I'm being honest, it wasn't hard to see coming. It's been a difficult and frustrating twelve months for the young Spanish forward. It should have been a momentous year too - he made four appearances for Pellegrini's team, he scored on his debut and he trained frequently with the seniors, yet that only told part of the story. He struggled frequently with the EDS, partially down to being played out of position, but there was other factors at play.
A series of hugely disruptive injuries during the crucial developmental years of 16-18 hampered his progress, and he never quite looked the same again. He was brilliant before that, and it was to expected too - he came with an incredible reputation, and a hefty price tag for one so young. There was no questioning it in the earlier stages of his City career. Here was a talent, a magnificent one. He linked beautifully with Rony Lopes, scoring a series of wonderful goals as he terrorised defences at youth level with his quick footwork, subtle movements and natural confidence. He had the world at his feet - a star in the making.
Then came the setbacks. They hit hard. One in particular left him out for more or less a whole year. They proved seriously debilitating and that confidence, the extra yard of pace, the quickness of thinking - it just wasn't quite there on his return, and though there was glimpses of his ability he never seemed quite right. Think Torres' scenario, but at a vastly younger, and arguably more crucial, age.
It wasn't just the injuries, of course - he was often played up front through the middle with his back to goal. He's many things, but he's certainly not a number nine and he struggled to assert himself up against opponents vastly stronger. He worked hard, but he looked lost as he was repeatedly out-muscled.
On the rare occasion he found himself facing the goal, and notably when he linked up with Iheanacho during his brief stint with the EDS last year, there was fleeting moments of encouragement. There was some lovely one twos, clever movement and the odd smattering of skill. That intelligence was still there, but when it mattered he just wasn't consistent enough. Indeed, there were many, many candidates arguably more befitting of the opportunities he was given last season. Barker, Bryan, Celina. Ntcham, Byrne, Angelino, Gunn, Boadu, Celina, Maffeo. All were in better form. Perhaps he wouldn't have been thrown in up front for the first team either if Thierry Ambrose hadn't been so unfortunately injured during the mid-season soiree to Abu Dhabi for the Hamburg friendly. He was certainly more suitable - a lot more adept at dealing with the physicality, and a vastly more natural striker.
There was no questioning Pozo's commitment during the first team appearances, but he felt very much a last resort, and he was always facing an uphill struggle. Up against the likes of Phil Jagielka, he struggled physically - and if anything those appearances seemed to knock his confidence further. He had his big chance. His moment to shine, yet he was deployed as a workhorse, out of position, and truthfully, out of his depth in that role. It didn't help.
Read the full article on In Esteemed Kompany here.