2015/16 Premier League team preview: Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t expected to make it past this summer after Manchester City finished the 2014-15 season with no silverware to show for their efforts. But the club’s owners have backed the Chilean coach, as he looks to secure a … Continue reading
Manuel Pellegrini wasn’t expected to make it past this summer after Manchester City finished the 2014-15 season with no silverware to show for their efforts. But the club’s owners have backed the Chilean coach, as he looks to secure a second Premier League title in three years as manager.
Although City still possess some of the very best players in English football, overhauling City is not going to be easy. The core of the squad which fired the club to title wins in 2012 and 2014 is beginning to age and integrating new players into roles of major responsibility will be a big challenge for City.
The club have made some major acquisitions, with Fabian Delph and, most notably, Raheem Sterling coming in to add an English influence to the City team. But whether they possess quality sufficient enough to close the gap to the top spot is another matter entirely.
But with players like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure still performing to a high level, City always have a chance of doing impressive things. If the club can respond to losing their crown like they did in 2013/14, when a City team with renewed motivation launched a late surge to take the league title, they could go close to winning the top prize again.
Reasons to be Positive
The club’s pursuit of Sterling prompted plenty of discussion, with the ex-Liverpool man seemingly doing everything in his power to force a move to the Etihad Stadium. But after the fume descended, the fact remains City have snapped up England’s brightest young talent and one of the most exciting emerging players in European football.
Sterling will add an effervescence to an attack that was sensational to watch last season. Aguero’s season was typically blotted by injuries, but he was magnificent when on the field. Meanwhile, Silva continued to live up to his nickname of Merlin, linking the play with a unique panache for Pellegrini’s side.
Reasons to be Negative
Aside from Sterling, the first XI hasn’t really been improved. At the back there are concerns over the best man to partner Vincent Kompany, although the Belgian international’s form took a nosedive last season too.
Up front, Pellegrini only has Aguero on Wilfried Bony to call upon too, with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic both setting off to join Serie A sides. Teenage prodigy Kelechi Iheanacho has impressed in pre-season and could be handed a chance to shine, but given the Chilean’s penchant for fielding a two-striker system, some more firepower is needed before the window shuts.
Key Player – David Silva
Although Aguero is the very best center-forward in the Premier League, if not in Europe, Silva is the player who makes this City team hum. When the Spaniard is at his intricate best there are few better players to watch in the division and his ability to affect a game from a wide position or off the striker will be critical to the Citizens’ cause.
Getting Silva on the ball as often as possible should be City’s primary aim in tight contests and Pellegrini will be looking to the ex-Valencia man to influence the biggest matches. Expect Silva, as he does with such style on the pitch, to take things insouciantly in his stride.
Prediction – 4th
This is going to be a tough season for City. They’ve made a couple of strong additions at the time of writing, but there’s a danger the core of this team, which looked a little stale during the 2014-15 season, may fail to scale the heights of their title winning campaigns in years gone by.
If Pellegrini can lure some marquee captures to the Etihad in the latter stages of the transfer window, there is a strong foundation upon which to mount a title charge. But without any more additions, City could be dealt a reality check of sorts this season. Their squad is too good to worry about dropping out of the top four spots, though.
Expert Opinion – Kartik Krishnaiyer (World Soccer Talk)
Manchester City showed toward the end of last season that its squad had become old, tired and stale when compared to the other challengers chasing Chelsea. Both Arsenal and Manchester United were on an upward trajectory while City, despite ending the season on a six-game winning streak, was looking in a downward spiral.
Against this backdrop of impending doom and desperation, the club did something unprecedented. They spent £44 million on a 20 year-old English international. The signing of Raheem Sterling, which has been widely mocked by the media and fans of opposing clubs while City’s own fans are apprehensive, could be the master-stroke that keeps the Blues competitive this season in the race for a top 4 spot and maybe even an outside title chance.
Sterling adds pace and flair to the Blues. His presence will allow David Silva more space and time on the ball. Additionally, as we have seen in the preseason, he can be deployed as a striker when needed. Sterling may have irritated Liverpool fans and their cheerleaders in the media with his exit from Anfield, but his skill set is exactly what Manchester City needed.
The addition of Fabian Delph will help also in central midfield, where the Blues struggled so much last season. Delph’s passing ability from deep-lying positions in addition to his strong left foot make him a quality addition.
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