Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Transfer deadline day....All quiet!

Bar out goings it was a very quiet transfer deadline day at Manchester City.  Some might see that as a sign UEFA'S FFP restriction was really biting but in all honesty City's main business in getting the likes of Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany etc... to sign new long term deals could be the best business the club has ever done.

True there were issues.  Kompany hasn't had a settled partner, Martin Demichelis was only ever brought in as cover though injuries meant he was called on to play far more regularly than Manuel Pellegrini could have imagined towards the end of last season he possibly was City's best defender and had a decent World cup for Argentina.  That issue could well have been solved by the signing Eliaquim Mangala.  

Fernando at first puzzled me we had two decent holding players in Yaya and Fernandinho.  Though having seen his form in the league games he's played I totally get it.  He is a play breaker who isn't afraid to run with the ball and he can spot a pass.  Added to that his signing gives Pellegrini the option of  pushing Yaya further forward where his sheer size and skill have panicked many defences.

Joe Hart on his day is one of the best keepers in the world.  But does seem to lose concentration.  The signing of Willy Caballero is a good move as it keeps pressure on Joe, the sort he's not really had since Shay Given was at City .  Caballero is know and trusted by Pellegrini so any slip ups by Hart he knows the manager has a ready made replacement breathing down his neck.

It's no coincidence City's squad that played West Ham to win the title in 2014 contained many of the same players that won the title in such dramatic fashion against QPR in 2012.  City have a very settled squad which will not need much tweeking the next few years.  Then throw in hot academy prospects like Marcos Lopes currently on loan to Lille returning next summer.  Devante Cole appears to have settled well on loan Barnsley. Jason Denayer has looked very good both for City in pre season and whenever he's played whilst on loan at Celtic.  There are some good young players who will be putting pressure on Pellegrini for a chance next year.

The surprise departure in Alvaro Negredo has left many questioning if 3 strikers is enough.   Looking back to last season it more often was the case that if you were fit you started.  City rarely had 4 strikers available as Aguero missed  half the season with Jovetic missing more.  Jovetic appears to now be fully fit having had a full pre season and has been looking like a new signing almost with decent form.  Indeed injuries in key games like Everton away meant City switched to one up front.

All in all perhaps not the window some expected but in many respects did much need changing?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

What a difference a year makes

Last summer the dust was settling from Roberto Mancini's sacking and the subsequent appointment of Manuel Pellegrini.  The rumours of a dressing room divided with big stars apparently asking the club to sell them were all over the press.

Pellegrini certainly had a tough task but his calm demeanour seemed to rub off on the players, even when results didn't match performances very little seemed to bother "the engineer" He quietly and respectfully went about his tasks and whenever questioned he seemed to find the answer.  Indeed any side losing a player of the quality of Sergio Aguero for pretty much half of the season would struggle, but Pellegrini seemed to reinvigorate Edin Dzeko who came on strong when it mattered.

Other players who struggled last year also came to the fore.  Samir Nasri by his own admission had a poor 12/13 but was sensational for long periods of 13/14.  Aleks Kolarov was also a key player and for me made it so h/e should be the first choice left back.  Even Javi Garcia looked much improved under Pellegrini's guidance. There was a togetherness style and swagger as City won the first major trophy of the season in the Capital One Cup was won.

Then as Liverpool crumbled under the pressure of all but being certain of winning the title Pellegrini's City won 4 straight including a dramatic 3-2 win at Goodison Park, a ground where City have rarely won in the Premier League era to wrap up a 2nd title in 3 years.

It has been an incredible season 102 league goals with some amazing performances from many in the team.  Though special mention has to go to Yaya Toure 20 goals from midfield in the league was an amazing achievement. 

Though a lot of credit has to go to the manager.  Manuel Pellegrini his first season in England, what he achieved is a credit to the man.  To win two major trophies in his first season whilst still learning the league is outstanding.  He's set himself high standards and you know he'll want more!