Following the disappointing display at the World Cup in South Africa, English football supporters will be eager to get the new season under way and none more so than Manchester City. With the pain of just missing out on fourth spot last season, the blues have again spent heavily in the transfer market, in the hope that the new additions will bring a bit of steel to the side and push the club to new heights.
Jerome Boateng was the first to arrive from Hamburg, and he turn out to be the bargain of the summer at just £11m. Yaya Toure has joined his brother at Eastlands and World Cup winner David Silva soon followed. Aleksander Kolarov became Roberto Mancini’s fourth summer signing and City threaten to spend further should the potential deals for James Milner and Mario Balotelli come to fruition.
With so many signings following in the footsteps of those made by Mark Hughes last summer, questions are again being asked as to whether the new players will gel in time to make a serious assault at the title. In addition to this, many other players and managers have hit out at the blues, claiming they will achieve nothing this season or, in the case of Frank Lampard, claiming Mancini is on borrowed time at Eastlands.
To make such a statement is, quite frankly, ludicrous. ADUG are clever businessmen and they understand that they cannot go swapping the manager when it suits them and appoint someone that will completely reshape the team. Many have criticized City’s continual signings but, over the years, the squad has never had any depth. They have never had a bench full of players that can go on and turn the game. Until now.
What Went Wrong Last Season?
City’s biggest problem last year was beating the ‘lesser’ teams. Drawing at home with teams such as Fulham and Hull was just not good enough, particularly when they were able to come from behind and beat Chelsea (twice). Draws at Bolton and Wigan need to be turned into wins this year if City are to mount a serious challenge.
The other problem City had last year was switching off at the end. Three times it happened against United and three times last minute winners were conceded. Concentration will be the key this year. They almost have the consistency; now they need to concentrate.
Who Is On The Way Out?
If the fans get their way, the first out of the revolving door will be Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguay striker was signed by Mark Hughes last year but failed to make an impact. In fact, he failed to make an appearance until the end of September and the 3-1 win over West Ham. Santa Cruz made 22 appearances for City, but 15 of them came form the substitutes bench and only managed to score 4 goals. Not a healthy return for an £18m marksman.
Stephen Ireland has been earmarked as moving to Villa Park in an exchange for James Milner while Nedum Onuoha is a possible target for Sunderland and Newcastle. Micah Richards’ future has long been under debate and former golden boy Shaun Wright-Phillips could be seeing the back of Eastlands for a second time following the signings of Silva and Adam Johnson in January.
Striker Jo could be given a chance but will probably leave, while Craig Bellamy has been linked to Spurs in several occasions, although City will be reluctant to sell the striker to one of their closest rivals.
Javier Garrido has ended his uneventful spell in Manchester by replacing Kolarov at Lazio, while Benjani was released and Martin Petrov joined Bolton on a free transfer. With the transfer deadline fast approaching and City having to name their 25 man squad by the end of August, the blues should expect to see a few departures before then.
Expectations are high at Eastlands and that will be matched on the pitch. Pre-season hasn’t been too good but it culminated with a 2-0 home win over Valencia. But pre-season results matter not when the real business of the Premiership starts and blues fans should expect to win that Champions League place they were so cruelly denied last season.
A cup final at least should be within reach and with three chances to make it (FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League), City have the squad to reach at least one major final. Their European campaign starts at Timisoara in Romania, a city which saw the start of the Romanian revolution in 1989.
Blues fans everywhere will be hoping Timisoara will be the start of City’s own revolution, which will finally end their long wait for silverware and show the whole of Europe that there really are two teams in Manchester.
Written by Pete, the editor of the Manchester City blog Over the Blue Moon.