Manchester City Season Preview 2013-14
How things can change.
A year to the day that he led Manchester City to their first league title in 44 years, Roberto Mancini was sacked by The Citizens after letting their city rivals regain the crown.
An FA Cup win might have been able to save his job, but Ben Watson’s stoppage time header gave Wigan the victory and meant City finished the season trophyless.
Ten years ago that would have been fine, with avoiding relegation the priority in 2003, not claiming as many trophies as possible.
But with the club’s (fairly) new found wealth, anything but success is considered a failure.
The task now is to stop the same thing happening again this season and it has been all change at the Etihad Stadium this summer to make sure it doesn’t.
Chilean Manuel Pellegrini was brought from Malaga to take charge of the team, having guided the Spanish side to the Champions League quarter-finals last season.
This is the 59 year old’s 11th club as a manager having competed with just one club during his playing career: Universidad de Chile.
He has faced this kind of pressure before at Real Madrid, where he was told to win La Liga or get the sack.
In that case, yes, he did get fired but has a score to settle with his predecessor at the Bernabeu, Jose Mourinho, now back at Chelsea.
On the pitch, the club’s Qatari owners have spent almost £90 million on four new players to revamp the squad.
Two strikers, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic, have been brought in from Sevilla and Fiorientina respectively, to cover the losses of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli.
Winger Jesus Navas has also come from Sevilla and Brazilian centre midfielder Fernandinho has arrived from Shakhter Donetsk to sure up the middle of the park.
Unlike some of the club’s over the top spending in the past, this could prove to be money very well spent.
Depth. And not just in the fact that they have players in reserve but those players in reserve could probably walk into most other starting elevens in the wold easily.
Such is the case; the new signings may end up putting players like Edin Dzeko (the club’s top scorer last season) on the bench.
Roberto Mancini used all three of his substitutes in almost every game last season and they had the great impacts. City’s subs got the most points than any other teams’ did in the division and only Reading’s substitutes scored more goals after coming off the bench.
Whereas some sides use subs for the sake of it, the quality of the players that Mancini had in reserve meant that without them, City would have finished the season in 6th position.
Furthermore, because of the vast number of quality players in the squad, the only player to make over 30 league appearances for the club last season was Yaya Toure.
Creativity is another integral part of the way Manchester City play. David Silva created the most chances in the Premier League last season and the thought of him on one wing and his compatriot Jesus Navas on the other is a terrifying thought.
Too much depth. It could be the case that what may start off as a strength could end up as a weakness.
A more consistent starting XI may prove to bring more consistent results, so with Pellegrini chopping and changing often, the players will never be able to gel in one set formation.
But on the other hand, keeping the same starting eleven could create unrest in the players not being picked. Players always want to be picked regularly but one thing is on City’s side: Money.
It’s a dilemma either way.
I think that Sergio Aguero could be the player to improve on City’s fairly dismal attempt in the title ‘race’ last season.
Last season may have not been his best in front of goal but with the support of two new strikers and chances at a premium, the 25 year old should be able to hit the 20 goal mark like he did in City’s title winning season.
He has been on form for Argentina lately too so will be expected to carry the majority of his club’s goal threat.
Although he is already a club legend for his heroics against Queens Park Rangers last May, but if he is able to recreate them, well…
With a new boss and new signings, this season will either be their best ever or a transition year for the club.
Although it may take them a while to get going, they should be right in the mix by Christmas and will compete in what looks to be one of the closet and most competitive title races in history.
They may be able to beat Manchester United and their new boss, but conquering Chelsea and their new, but old, boss could be a step too far but you never know.
One things for sure though. It will certainly not be a quiet season for the blue half of Manchester.
Olly Allen’s 2013-14 prediction: 2nd