Manchester City defender Micah Richards believes that the former Premier League champions will improve on their showing from last season and set a higher standard under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. The defender, who managed just eight games last campaign, mostly due to injury, feels that City will have a better chance to win silverware this season, even though he refused to blame the previous manager Roberto Mancini for the club’s failure to land any major trophy last season.
City certainly have the look of the most balanced team that can go all the way to lift the Premier League. And with less than 10 days remaining for the start of the brand new season, there is a confident feel among everyone at the Etihad.
Every new manager comes with a new ray of hope, expectations and zest all around, unless it is the dangerous cocktail of Alex McLeish and Aston Villa. A new manager comes with a new belief, new ideology, and new set of ideas that shakes up the existing systems at any club. And more often than not these are quite challenging and refreshing for a big club with an avalanche of stars. Of course, all the gusto can suck up like a wet balloon, if a certain veteran with name of Roy Hodgson starts to preach antediluvian philosophies that were once used in the fossils-era.
Pellegrini doesn’t descent from the by-gone eras, rather he is a modern manager, in truest sense. He has a firm footballing ideology, astute in tactical aspects and has the backings of everyone at the club (so far) – so, hardly any reason why there should be gloom all around.
This new found zest has a strong pinch of motivation added to it. Last season, City couldn’t live up to their expectations and as a result failed to mount any sort of challenge for the title, as Man United won the Championship at a canter.
The club desperately wants to win it back from their derby rivals, which injects an extra element of willingness in the team to prove themselves.
Further, City have spent big and early this season that shows homework has been done beforehand. There was a need to close the wide chasm that was created between the two Manchester clubs last season. And they duly responded by spending more than £100 million on players that are capable of improving the first team significantly.
Unlike last season, City have spent early in the summer and have given enough time to the new players to gel before the start of a new season. Secondly, the players bought are either an up-gradation from the existing bunch or are different sort of players bought to replenish the positions left by previous stars. For example, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas are better players than the likes of Jack Rodwell or Scott Sinclair, while Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo aren’t really an upgrade on Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli – but are good enough to fill-up their void in a different way and manner.
Another interesting feature of City’s transfer dealings this season is – the players bought aren’t necessarily so-called world-class or marquee names, but have tremendous potential and need a better platform to show their mettle. In that way, Pellegrini has actually assembled a “hungry” group of players, whose talents are known to all, but there is an added incentive for them to shine on a better platform at a club surrounded by better quality of players.
Thus, having bought players that can have a major impact in the team, Pellegrini has actually done the most difficult task (on paper) usually faced by most clubs – striking the right balance. City already boast the best defence in the league and by adding a quality midfielder, a winger, and two class forwards – the attacking front has been equally bolstered as well.
Also, City are in a stable position than other major teams in England. Of course, when you’re at the top, there is hardly any need to look downwards, but when you’re second best, you simply cannot ignore how your rivals are developing simultaneously. Manchester United have yet to sign any major signings, Chelsea are still struggling to land a quality striker while Arsenal are in a limbo over the Luis Suarez saga and have failed to improve the squad considerably as well.
The balance probably will be well maintained unlike previous seasons as City have finally got a team that has players, who keep their focus on things related to pitch only. In other words, Pellegrini won’t have to face (probably) the hazard of controlling any trouble-makers in the team, which his predecessor faced while handling players like Balotelli or Tevez. And is there any single manager who doesn’t want to reap the benefits of managing a harmonious side?
Therefore, Richards’ claim that City will improve under Pellegrini makes a lot of sense. If they can keep their squad fit (luck provided), there’s no reason why City can’t go the extra mile under their new manager.