Premier League preview – Manchester City

Last season:

Premier League: 2nd

FA Cup: Runners-up

League Cup: Third Round

Champions League: Group Stage

After a trophiless campaign it’s all change at the Etihad Stadium, with Roberto Mancini being replaced by Chilean Manuel Pellegrini. After dismal challenges in the League Cup, Champions League and Premier League, the Manchester City board’s patience was wearing thin, and the straw that many believe broke the camel’s back was a loss to Wigan in the final of the FA Cup.

Mancini was told his services were no longer needed after the loss to the Latics at Wembley, which ended any chance of the Sky Blues finishing the 2012/13 season with silverware. On June 14 City announced that Pellegrini would be taking over from Mancini as the club strived for a more “holistic approach to football.” However, although Italian Mancini failed to deliver trophies last term, the 48-year-old will be a tough act to follow, especially seeing how popular he was with the Citizens faithful.

In his first summer in charge Pellegrini, 59, has continued to ring the changes at the Etihad, echoing the sentiments of the club’s hierarchy for the need to adapt. So far this summer Pellegrini has been busy bringing in Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas from Sevilla, as well as Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk. These signings and the club’s pre-season set-up have suggested that the Chilean boss will be looking to implement a 4-3-3 formation, exploiting the width of the pitch. The thought of Navas, Negredo and Jovetic linking at the head of the line-up has got fans and pundits alike salivating.

Pellegrini’s summer transactions have taken the Eastlands outfit’s spending to £90m, however rumours suggest that they may not be done yet. City had trouble with a less than stable defence in their pre-season preparations. The Blues started shipping goals after an injury to Matija Nastasic which saw him stretchered off in the club’s Asia trophy final against Sunderland in Hong Kong.

Since the young Serbian defender was carried off City have conceded eight goals in their last three warm-up matches – one such encounter saw them go down 4-1 to Arsenal. Some reports have suggested that the 20-year-old’s rumoured month long lay-off will give players such like Joleon Lescott and Dedryck Boyata a chance to cement a place in the team.

Others have claimed however that Pellegrini is ready to stage a raid on his former club Real Madrid for defensive enforcer Pepe. One thing is for sure though City will have to shore up their back-line ahead of their Premier League curtain raiser against Newcastle on Monday. The pressure will be on the new manager to deliver success this season; another league runners-up medal may not be enough to appease the trophy hungry board.

One place the City bosses have targeted for big improvements is the Champions League. A rock bottom finish in the group stage last term was a painful blow for the powers-that-be at Eastland. They will now be hoping that their outlay this summer will have delivered the fire power needed to be a success in Europe. Goals should be a given from this City squad, however keeping them out will be a big area of concern ahead of a season at a club where nothing but success will do.

The pressure is on Manuel Pellegrini to deliver a trophy

Manager – Manuel Pellegrini: The Chilean has had his way with transfers over the summer, but getting the players to gel may be a test for his highly sought after managerial skill. Another battle he faces is getting a group of fans who admired the outgoing boss to show him the same courtesy, though love will come with silverware.

Key signing – Fernandinho: You could take your pick of City’s summer signings for a key individual to watch. Goals have been added through Jovetic and Negredo, but midfield power could count for a lot in a campaign such as the one this squad faces, so Fernandinho’s partnership with Yaya Toure could be an interesting watch.

Key sale – Carlos Tevez: Although the enigmatic Argentinean didn’t always see eye-to-eye with the club’s authorities, once he got onto the pitch he made the game come alive. Tevez finally got his wish to leave the Etihad this summer and departed for Juventus in June. The club may feel they have replaced Tevez but there is no substitute for experience.

Keep an eye out for…Jesus Navas: At 27 he is not the youngest player in the City squad, but what he will deliver is outright pace and a lethal shot. Pellegrini has always favoured playing with wingers so Navas’s power and pace could see him link-up wonderfully with one of the other new signings, Stevan Jovetic.

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