Season Preview: Manchester City – Part 1

For the first part of our preview of Manchester City’s season we spoke to one of the finest City writers out there, Simon Curtis. Simon is an essential read for all City fans and owns the excellent Down the Kippax Steps blog which not only casts an expert eye over the current crop of City players but also delves into the rich history of the club. As well as this, Simon can be found on ESPN, IBWM, Champions Mag, and 442. You can find Simon on Twitter here.

Last season was arguable one the best in the club’s history in terms of the style of football and the silverware. Can it be topped this season?

Probably not. The way the goals flew in for three months either side of Christmas suggests that it was quite probably something the like of which we might not witness again. Not many of us thought we would live to see such delights float in front of our eyes and last season quite possibly topped the lot. Manchester City is a vastly different animal to the stumbling wounded beast we watched through clenched fingers in the 80s and 90s and – for many of us – all or most of our dreams have already been realised by messrs Mancini and Pellegrini. Add a little flourish on the continent and we can head towards old age with a stupid contented grin on our collective faces. The only way Señor Pellegrini can top the lot of course is to do the unthinkable and land the Champions League. I can’t remember where the final is this season, but I will be the one busily eating my hat in the front row if that comes to pass.

Video via @TypicalSid

The Porto pairing of Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala have been brought to the club this summer and look to have added some depth to City’s defence. As something of an expert on Portuguese football what can we expect from them this season?

I am fascinated by the difference between City’s summer deals and those of our title rivals. Whilst United, Arsenal and Chelsea are desperately trying to add quality and Liverpool are wondering how best to recover from losing a player who is irreplaceable, City have been quietly buying quality players who may not even get in the side. This certainly applies to one of the two Porto captures, Fernando, who we have already seen is a great addition. I expect him to have his work cut out to dislodge the usual defensive two in midfield, but it may well come to pass that he is a direct replacement for Yaya perhaps as early as the end of this coming season. We know already that the management team at the Etihad has an eye on the long term now, so this is how I see it. Fernando is a great ball winner, clean and crisp in the tackle with those phenomenally long legs. Full of energy and with an attacking element added to his game, he is yet another quality box to box midfielder to grace City’s sky blue colours. Mangala is a powerhouse: muscular, aggressive, quick, and will be a good foil for Kompany I think. I just wonder, after all this faffing about, how long it will take him to settle in. He is young, inexperienced and liable to rushes of blood to the head, so – as I see it – he is not exactly ready made to go into games where he must mark the likes of Sanchez, Costa and Van Persie.

Of all the signings that have been made by other Premier League club’s this summer who would you have most liked to have seen sign for City instead? 

Good question. I can’t honestly say any of the purchases made me think, “damn he should be at City”, but I think Ander Hererra and Alexis Sanchez will be excellent additions for United and Arsenal respectively. If Arsenal can land a Khedira or similar to protect the defence and drive them forward, I think they will be City’s toughest challengers this season. On the flip side of this I cannot see how Liverpool think Lambert and Lallana will allow the Kop to forget about Luis Suarez. Amazingly, City have now reached a level where the only transfers they should make are ones featuring the very cream of world talent. So, looking further afield, James would have been nice.

Since the arrival of Louis van Gaal at United the English press has seemingly gone into meltdown. Looking beyond the hysteria, do City fans have anything to worry about as far as United are concerned this season? Surely, we won’t be able to stop playing after 55 minutes again this season.

In a way the press are right to get excited. Van Gaal is a member of that small elite group of coaches that United should have been picking from a year ago. How they could land on David Moyes during a proper scouting process, God only knows. For a club with their history and aspirations, it was a disastrous decision. This year will be very different. I expect United to be very competitive and to finish in the top four, probably at Liverpool’s expense. Van Gaal will have them well organised, tactically functional (no matches with 75 aimless crosses this time around) and able to score from all over the park. The question remains, can he drag the club so far forward with so many players who were dire under Moyes? That is the big unknown at Old Trafford, but they will be much better this season without a doubt.

City’s golden era of the late sixties and early seventies is widely regarded as the club’s finest hour but what with the recent run of success is it fair to say we’ve never had it any better? Can we even seriously compare to the two eras given the difference in the culture in the game from then and now?

Sure, why not? There are vast differences but it’s still eleven blue shirted players in the end. That late sixties side came too early for me to remember it, but those were the days of home grown talent and bargain buys. Very few of that side cost a decent amount of money, whereas the present side cost quite a few bob. This side is clearly better 1 to 11, as there is hardly a weak link, but Manuel Pellegrini still has a little way to go before he ousts Genial Joe and Big Mal from their position as most decorated City managers. I believe he will do it, however, and I can’t think of a nicer man to enter the annals of Manchester City history. I just hope we can see him holding up the European Cup at some stage before his time with us is over.

Finally, who do you think will make up the top 4 at the end of the season and who will get relegated.

City, Arsenal, Chelsea, United. Down: Palace, Burnley, Leicester

Interview by Rob Toole who is on Twitter

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