Last season was nothing short of a disaster for everyone associated with Manchester City. An embarrassing bottom-placed finish in the Champions League group stage was followed by a pathetic defence of their title while Ben Watson’s 90th minute goal in the FA Cup final denied Mancini his 3rd piece of major silverware. 2012/13 was definitely a season to forget for Blues.City retaliated quickly when chief executive Ferran Soriano dismissed Mancini and instated Manuel Pellegrini. With promises of expansive, attractive football and implementation of youth into the team, Pellegrini quickly brought many nervous blues on his side.
While League rivals Manchester United and Chelsea were caught up in headline-grabbing Rooney debacles and the Bale & Suarez sagas caught everyone’s attention, Pellegrini moved efficiently and ruthlessly to acquire his targets. City were determined not to repeat last year’s shenanigans and thus worked peerlessly in the transfer market to ensure all major negotiations were wrapped up early. Under the tutelage of Manuel Pellegrini, City’s new look squad is undoubtedly the strongest in the league with many top-class players vying for a starting position. Manchester City, who looked hungover from celebrations last season, once again bear that hungry mentality that was so glaring during the early year’s of Mancini’s tenure.
City have acquired 4 major players over the course of the transfer window and could yet move for another defender. Such a move could take City’s spending this season to over £100m after the arrival of Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo.
The Navas signing was a no brainer. We lacked width and pace on the wings last season and I don’t think there is another player in the world who can address those problems like Jesus. See a more in-depth profile of Navas here.
As for Fernandinho, he is easily the most risky transfer of the summer. £30M is a huge amount of money for a 28 year old, especially for a player who plays in a perceived weaker league. However, his Man of the Match performances against Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League evidently proves his quality. His dazzling, dynamic pre-season form has also helped ease some of the nervousness around Manchester. He has Champions League quality written all over him, something, with all due respect, Gareth Barry does not.
Alvaro Negredo marks arguably City’s most sensible signing of the summer – a true ‘Premier League’ forward. His build, stature and natural goal-scoring instincts have already reaped benefits when he showcased his talents to effortlessly brush off Laurent Koscielny to score against Arsenal last week. Negredo is a classic brutal goal-scorer having netted 32 times last year; the perfect player to take the goal-scoring burden off Sergio Aguero.
As for Stevan Jovetic, I’ve already covered in depth how that Montenegrin wizard might fit in at City, here.
Most significantly, City have finally managed to final rid themselves of the lurking shadow of the Hughes era. All the undesirables brought in by Mark Hughes (and Maicon) have finally left the club. The extortionate wages and contract lengths that were offered to Roque Santa Cruz, Wayne Bridge and Kolo Toure – now City rejects and misfits – will haunt City fans for a long time to come. That trio were easily racking up around £350k a week – a truly horrific figure – crippling City’s ambitions to comply with Financial Fair Play rules in the process.
The only other significant departure so far is a certain Carlos Tevez. Carlitos’ time at City is well documented so there won’t be any need to go into that. As for his sale, City had no other choice considering he was on the last year of his contract and £12m bid from Juventus was too tempting to turn down for a player who turns 30 next year. Another major factor was getting those monstrous £200K+ a week wages of the bill as City slowly look to restructure its wage system.
Gareth Barry, Scott Sinclair and young prodigy Denis Suarez will all probably be gone by the time you’ve read this; netting City a neat £10m and trimming the wage bill.
KEY PLAYER: David Silva
I felt straight away Silva would be our man next season when Pellegrini was appointed. If you look at what Pellegrini has achieved with players in the Silva mould then you can safely assume he’ll work wonders with David too.At Villarreal, Pellegrini embraced Juan Riquleme. He built the team around him and exploited his remarkable play-making abilities. Then when his time came to a close, he ruthlessly benched him and introduced a young Santi Cazorla onto the main stage. It’s not even just at Villarreal, the way he managed to fit so many playmakers/attacking midfielders at Real Madrid was also incredible. Van der Vaart, Kaka, Guti & Xabi Alonso all featured regularly that season where he racked up a club record 96 league points.
As for Silva, Pellegrini has already spoke of his delight of being able to manage a player like Silva, labelling him as the “kind of player that makes the difference”. Pellegrini will probably look to build the team around Silva, hopefully lessening some of the defensive burdens he had under Mancini. David’s ability to find pockets of space and gaps between defenders is incredible and hopefully Pellegrini’s desired formation exploits those abilities. Silva can effortlessly control the tempo of a game so it’s absolutely vital the players supporting him aren’t complete and utter passengers like Nasri was last season. If Silva is on form then City are on form, it’s as simple as that.
POTENTIAL BREAKOUT STAR: John Guidetti
There is only stand-out candidate for me and that is John Guidetti. He’ll definitely be in the mixer this season once he recovers from injury. He really is an exceptional talent, it’s no wonder Pellegrini said he tried try to get him at Malaga last year. He’s had his fair share of injuries this past year or so but he seems confident he can finally show everyone what he’s made of. Let’s be real, you have to be really special to score 20 goals in your debut season for Feyernoord at the age of 19.
Predicted line-up for Newcastle game:
Hart – Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy – Fernandinho, Yaya Toure – Silva, Navas – Aguero, Dzeko.
SEASON PREDICTION: 1st
At the time of writing, United have missed out on virtually every single transfer target while Chelsea look set to miss out on Wayne Rooney. Taking into account both clubs need vital reinforcements deeper in midfield and are far from finished in the transfer window, City undoubtedly have the best squad in the league – at the moment.
Pellegrini boasts an incredible squad with a fantastic array of attacking talent so there will be few excuses for him not to perform with that squad this season. A commendable Premier League title charge should be on the cards, while the prospect of playing knock-out European football will delight fans. Such targets are challenging yet most fans would agree, fairly reasonable too. A season of promise awaits Manchester City; promises that must be fulfilled if Pellegrini is to take City onto the next level.