This will be the fourth season of Manchester City’s new found wealth and although the trophy hoodoo has been ended and Champions League football attained, it is now time for the investment to reap real rewards.
The Premier League title is the ultimate goal and theoretically City are armed with many of the components to achieve this, but still, critically, many they are not. The mass investment from the Abu Dhabi group has provided the Sky Blues with arguably the strongest squad in the division and manager Roberto Mancini has had a season and a half to work out the intricacies of English. Buying has been the quick-fix used by City to elevate themselves to where they are now, and that shows no signs of abating. Sergio Aguero’s arrival will add class up-front but the fact his signing has been made to countenance the likely disappearance of Carlos Tevez only highlights the combustible nature of the City recruitment process.
Mancini’s insistence that he requires another winger and a midfielder is an internal declaration that the most expensively assembled squad in the history of football is still ill-equipped to do the job. It also raises questions about his ability to get the best out of the players at his disposal. Paramount to the plans will be players like David Silva and Yaya Toure, who grew into their debut campaigns with enough conviction to suggest they will be prominent this time around. If Dzeko can strike a rapport with Aguero to provide a penetration to the solidarity built around Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong, then City will once again reinforce their place within the top four and strengthen their grip amongst the elite.
Gael Clichy has been procured to compete with and possibly replace Aleksandar Kolarov, while Stefan Savic will reinforce the defensive hole left by Jerome Boateng’s departure back to Germany after just a single season. The jury is still definitely very much out on Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and James Milner, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge loiter in limbo-land after yet more questionable big-money moves. Given the like for like replacements it is difficult to say whether City have sufficiently strengthened individually or collectively enough to mount a genuine title challenge and combine the dual assault with European commitments. The upward surge of Manchester City is impossible to deny or perhaps even eventually stop, yet this season the onus is on discovering whether or not Mancini and his players can juggle concerns at home and abroad.
Key signing – Sergio Aguero: Regardless of whether Carlos Tevez stays or goes, Aguero will add undoubted quality to the City attacking ranks. His goal scoring record is impressive and his skill and mobility will give the side an extra dimension which was missing at times last term.
Key departure – Carlos Tevez: The Argentine striker’s future has yet to be fully resolved but even if he does stay will he be the same proposition which has successfully spearheaded the side since his arrival? The statistic about Tevez either assisting or scoring 40% of the team’s goals over the past two years highlights his importance.
Richards – Kompany – Lescott – Clichy
Milner – Yaya Toure – De Jong – Silva