Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?

Man City Sterling De Bruyne
Man City Sterling De Bruyne

It’s not been an easy year for Manchester City. After winning back-to-back Premier League titles with record breaking points totals, they endured a huge drop, finishing 18 points behind champions Liverpool.

This was further compounded by another quarter-final Champions League exit, with the Carabao Cup acting as something of a consolation prize for Pep Guardiola’s men.

Best Player – Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne became the second player to register 20 assists in a Premier League season

David Silva departed, Sergio Aguero has had injury woes, Raheem Sterling has been inconsistent, Bernardo Silva has dropped off. However, one man who hasn’t let his standards slip in 2020 is Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian playmaker became only the second player to record 20 assists in a single Premier League season, after Thierry Henry in 2002/03. As a result, he was given the PFA Premier League Player of the Year award – becoming the first ever Man City player to scoop the prize.

Best Game – Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?
Man City outplayed the Champions at the Etihad

One week earlier, Liverpool had wrapped up the title after the Cityzens fell to defeat at Stamford Bridge. This meant that the home side had to give a guard of honour to their opponents when they met in July.

Fortunately for Man City, that’s where the pleasantries ended. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Raheem Sterling made it two against his former club. Youngster Phil Foden netted another just before half time, ensuring that the hosts went into the break 3-0 up. A second half own goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the rout.

In truth, the result didn’t mean a lot. After all, Jurgen Klopp’s side had already won the league. However, it would have been nice to put a bit of a dampener on their celebrations. The game also helped prevent Liverpool from breaking City’s 100 point record.

Worst Game – Man City 1-3 Lyon

Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?
Dembele nets his first and Lyon’s second to knock Man City out

While they’ve won everything there is to win domestically, Man City have notoriously struggled in Europe, reaching just one Champions League semi-final. After defeating Real Madrid in the round of 16, they went into their quarter-final tie against Lyon as hot favourites.

The game did not pan out as hoped. Maxwel Cornet put the French side 1-0 up, but De Bruyne hit back in the second half to make the scores level.

Lyon weren’t fazed, however, and retook the lead through striker Moussa Dembele. After Sterling missed a golden opportunity to even it up late on, former Celtic striker Dembele sealed Lyon’s place in the semi-finals after an error by goalkeeper Ederson.

Transfer Business

Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?
Dias has made an impressive start to life in England

Fairly solid, all things considered.

It was a quiet January for Man City, but they soon opened their wallets again a few months later.

Ruben Dias was their marquee signing of the summer, arriving for approximately £65m. If his early season form is anything to go by, then he should be a successful purchase. Ferran Torres is another that looks to be a bargain at £20m, having looked good in his opening months.

Nathan Ake, however, is yet to justify his price tag, and early indications suggest that he will be a back up option for the Cityzens. He’s a solid back up option, for sure, but one wonders whether £41m for a third choice is good business.

As for outgoings, Leroy Sane and David Silva were the biggest names to leave the Etihad this year. Silva’s time had come, and Sane wanted to leave, so letting them go was probably the right call. However, questions will be asked whether they’ve been adequately replaced.

How Has the Manager Done?

Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?
Guardiola has had a disappointing year

He may be one of the most decorated managers of modern times, but 2020 was a poor year for Pep Guardiola’s standards.

Finishing 18 points off the title will have hurt the former Barcelona boss, and the Carabao Cup victory will have done little to ease the pain. Furthermore, the new campaign has not started as he’d have hoped, winning just 50% of their league games from the first 14. For a manager with so much talent at his disposal, that simply isn’t good enough.

The big games have been underwhelming, too. Man City faced Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals, and Arsenal in the semis of the FA Cup. Despite going into both games as favourites, they lost both.

If this continues, then Guardiola’s time at the Etihad could be coming to an end.

Overall Consensus

It’s been a massive step backwards for Man City.

The Carabao Cup is a positive, but the club will no doubt be looking for more in 2021. They no longer look like the juggernaut that they were in the previous two seasons, and still continue to underperform in Europe.

However, despite their somewhat average start to the 2020/21 season, they find themselves seven points off the top spot with two games in hand. If they can get back to their best, then a title charge will certainly be on the cards.

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