So what does the new season hold for Manchester City? Last season they failed to retain their title and more worryingly a number of their key players suffered a loss of form. It was hardly a shocking season for Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany but they both played a level lower than the season before. The other problem for Manchester City was that at times Roberto Mancini’s tactics seemed completely incomprehensible to his players. One week he would play 3-5-2 and the next he would play 4-4-2. His players didn’t understand what he wanted from them and it was hardly a surprise that he was sacked at the end of the season. A 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup final to Wigan was the final nail in Mancini’s coffin.
His replacement, Manuel Pellegrini comes with glowing reports from Spain but not a great deal in terms of trophies. What he should gain credit for though is the way in which he transformed the fortunes of Villarreal and Malaga and turned them into sides contending for Champions League places. He has a wealth of experience and already players like Samir Nasri have come out and said they are delighted with Pellegrini’s methods in pre-season.
As well as the new manager there has also been an influx of new playing personnel and if you look at who City have signed it is clear where their gripe lies. Manchester City have signed four very attacking players and obviously the men making the transfers have earmarked their attack as a potential area of improvement. Their argument does make sense. In Joe Hart, Gael Clichy, Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic and Pablo Zabaleta they have a back five that most sides in the world would envy. When you consider that Micah Richards is making a good recovery from injury the Manchester City back-line looks to be in good shape. Obviously since Nastasic’s injury I would imagine that City would look to sign another centre-back.
All four of City’s signings are designed with putting the ball in the back of the net which is probably a good thing. Last season City only scored 66 goals in the league which was worse than Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. If City are to win the title back from United they need to start scoring more. That is probably why they bought in Alvaro Negredo, the fourth highest scorer in La Liga. Only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao scored more than Negredo and the big forward certainly has the goals in him.
There are those who believe that Tottenham’s new boy Roberto Soldado is a better player technically but Negredo deserves this move. He has worked hard during his time at Sevilla and his improvement is undeniable but he remains remarkably frustrating. He can often go missing in matches but he will have far better support than he did with Sevilla.
Joining Negredo from the Spanish side is explosive winger Jesus Navas. The winger has long been coveted by Premier League sides and it seems remarkable that he only made the move this summer. With his quick feet and acceleration Navas is going to be a real handful for full-backs this season and he will provide a welcome shift away from Mancini’s preference for narrow play. Stevan Jovetic has joined from Fiorentina and the Montenegrin was said to be close to a move to Arsenal. Nevertheless it was City who won the race and it will be interesting to see where Pellegrini uses Jovetic. Although he was played primarily as an out and out striker in Italy he probably plays better just behind the striker and there is every chance that could happen at City.
The final signing is Brazilian Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk who many believe will add an extra dimension to City’s midfield. At €30 million it is obvious that City have overpaid but when a player is perfect for your system clubs will often be happy to pay more than is necessary. Fernandinho will provide another option in midfield and he will definitely relieve the pressure on Yaya Touré who often looked tired at times last season. Pellegrini could pair either one of them with a more defensive player like Javi Garcia or even play a 4-3-3 and play all three midfielders at once.
All of last season’s top five will look to push hard for a Champions League spot and even challenge for the title, although I’d rule out Spurs if Gareth Bale leaves. The Premier League is one of the most unpredictable and exciting leagues in the world and with three brand new managers at the top of the league things are even harder to predict. Manchester United will always be a force but without Sir Alex Ferguson they will always be that little bit weaker. Chelsea’s squad looks even stronger this year and with Jose Mourinho back in charge they will be extremely dangerous.
Manchester City are more than capable of challenging for the league but it definitely won’t be easy. Perhaps Manchester City should look to improve on their recent Champions League record and aim to win a domestic trophy. Every team at the top will be gunning for the Premier League title but no-one could be put forward as clear favourites right now.