In anticipation of tomorrow night’s season opener against Newcastle here is a round up of all the pre-match talk from both clubs. For City, Manuel Pellegrini and Joleon Lescott preview the match. For Newcastle, Alan Pardew and Steven Taylor give the North–East perspective on the tie. See what they have to say below:
Absolutely ready. We made a very good preseason. We had 40 days with all the players knowing each other more, and I think we’re in very good shape. We had a programme for the whole preseason, and each week made all the work we needed.
We played seven friendly matches with different starting 11s so most of them had a very similar average of minutes. We have a full squad to choose from for Newcastle.
I’m very pleased. I think we have the squad we need for the year, not only for the Premier League but also the Champions League.
We have different players and another striker in Alvaro Negredo. We tried to complete what we thought we need for the whole year. We have four important strikers, that is why they are here in this squad but we have them for the whole season. I don’t worry who plays tomorrow or next Sunday. We have four strikers because I think we need four strikers. We will see who is the best for each match.
Of course the new players – and the manager and staff – all need to time to get to know each other and I am sure that we will improve as the season progresses but we do not have that time; we have to hit the ground running and that starts against Newcastle.
We now start a new cycle after Roberto Mancini’s work from the previous seasons. He created history here, brought the club its first silverware in a long time and the first title in 44 years. He will never be forgotten and shouldn’t be. But football moves on and evolves, it has always been that way, and now we have a new era starting tonight with some new players. We had a good squad before I got here but I think we have bought well and bought wisely during the Summer.
Supporters of Manchester City have the reputation of being a big family and I am delighted to be part of it. My job now is to win trophies and take the team forward. From the outside this is a very big club with a great history but when you live inside the Club it is even more impressive with big aims in many different departments as well as on the pitch. I am enjoying learning about all the aspects of Manchester City.
The aim has been to build a group that has two top class players for each position; we are fighting for trophies on four fronts so we will need everyone at some stage. The Premier League can be won by one point and that point can depend on having a squad with strength and depth. Part of my job is to manage the fitness and freshness of the players to give us the best possible chance of winning all those trophies for which we compete.
Our main goal this season is to win the title back. We want to achieve and we want to progress. We feel we’ve done that over the previous few years. Last year was probably the only time we didn’t really feel we progressed as much as we would have liked. It hurts not winning the Premier League and it probably hurts a little bit more that it was Manchester United that took it from us.
We know that in certain periods of the season we didn’t play as well as we can and that’s the thing – consistency throughout the season. The most consistent team throughout the year tends to win the Premier League.
I know the team they will play and know what we’ll have obviously. They’ve got two or three new faces. But I’m pretty confident. I’m looking for a strong performance. We’ve lost to Man City twice in the years I’ve been here, we need to change that.
The last two times we’ve been there under me, we’ve been well beaten and there’s been a bit of a gap. So now under the new manager we hope to change that. The good way to approach it is to treat it like a bonus [that we play on Monday]. The table will read like we have lost on Saturday because we haven’t played. Therefore if we take a point or three we can take that into the West Ham and Fulham games.
We want to get people coming to the stadium and looking forward to the game — and not coming here and just hoping. We’ve got that support at St James’ Park and the agenda away from home will be to improve as well. We want to be getting five or six away wins and improving that way.
The message to the fans is stay positive. I think we can be a powerhouse offensively. And while that dropped last year a little, I think we can get it back again. There’s a long, long season ahead and there’s still work to do in the transfer market as well. Remy is here and when he is fit we will have some nice options.
He’s (Hatem Ben Arfa) shown up well in the last couple of games. He’s a player that you need to be very careful with because of the injuries that he’s had and we’ve nursed him through the pre-season and really geared it up these last two weeks. And he looks a lot better for it. We’re hoping that if we can get a full season out of him then I think our season will go hand in hand and it’ll be a success.
What you’re going to find on Monday is a fitter Newcastle United team compared to last season, and hopefully we can show that and produce the goods on the pitch. The big games are what we look forward to. We’ve got Manchester City first game and, hopefully, we can catch them off-guard.
As players, along with the manager and staff, we were disappointed with our performances last year. We didn’t hit the grade that we wanted to and hopefully this year we can hit the ground running.
Compiled by Robert Toole