Man City in 2014/15 – Mangala can help push European ambitions

Read Liverpool in 2014/15 – Life after Suarez

Read Man Utd in 2014/15 – Van Gaal must add experience to defence

After a blistering start to the 2013/14 campaign, new manager Manuel Pellegrini had his side playing some sumptuous football. David Silva found his spark once more, while the partnership between Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero blossomed countless goals early on.

Yaya Toure proved his world-class credentials with his performances from midfield, scoring an incredible 20 goals and contributing nine assists. After lifting the League Cup in March, City went on to thwart Liverpool’s brave charge for the title, pipping them to top spot by two points, and lifting the Premier League trophy for the second time in three seasons.

They were the fastest team to score a collective 100 in all competitions by January and the first team to have three players to score 15 Premier League goals in a season. Pellegrini’s side were deserved winners in the end, finishing the campaign as the highest scorers and boasting the second meanest defence in the league.

Aims for the season ahead

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how Pellegrini should approach the new season, other than to simply keep the momentum going. Roberto Mancini was unable to retain the Premier League title, so City fans will be hoping he can succeed where the Italian ‘fell short’. He has strength in depth in all areas of the pitch; overseeing the arrivals of Fernando, Caballero, Sagna, Lampard on loan, and young Bruno Zuculini. French centre back Eliaquim Mangala is also on the brink of joining the club from Porto, while Micah Richards will most likely join the already departed Joleon Lescott, Jack Rodwell, Costel Pantilimon and Gareth Barry out of Eastlands, in order to balance the books.

Pellegrini has managed to strengthen his squad without unsettling it and has replaced some deadwood with a few canny acquisitions. The Chilean will, however, need to manage injuries within his squad, a weakness which almost cost them the title last year. Currently Alvaro Negredo is out injured until at least October with a broken foot, while Aguero (hamstring, knee and calf), Silva (calf), Vincent Kompany (groin and hamstring), Matija Nastasic (knee and calf), Stevan Jovetic (hamstring and calf) and Samir Nasri (knee ligament) all spent time on the treatment table last season. Squad rotation will play a huge part of City’s season if they are to make progress in the Champions League in particular, a competition the owners are desperate to make a mark in.

Back to the league, and The Citizens could still do more to improve their away form. Out of their six defeats in the league last season, five of them came away from home; Cardiff, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Liverpool and Chelsea. The latter were also the only team to beat them at the Etihad stadium last season, and will pose their biggest threat to the title this year. The Stamford Bridge side had the tightest defence in the league last season and have since added the creativity and goals they had previously lacked. The title race this year will certainly be fierce, and I can’t see Pellegrini’s appetite for silverware waning. As far as the five year plan goes, it’s two trophies down, three to go.

Key summer signing so far

Eliaquim Mangala. With Nastasic missing most of last season through injuries and Demichelis’ immobility often exposing City at the back, should his move be confirmed, the new French signing will bring height, power and agility to their defence. His experience in the Europa League last season with Porto could be a huge asset to his already undoubted talent and help his new side in their Champions League campaign this season. On average per European outing last season, Mangala outperformed Nastasic, Kompany, Lescott and Demichelis in categories such as clearances (average of 7.33 per game), aerial duels won (3.17), rate of total duels won (67.44%) and scored more goals per game (0.50). His imposing presence could provide Man City with that extra quality needed to make the leap up to reaching the quarter- or even semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition and I can envisage him forming an important partnership with club captain Kompany, with stability at the back evidently required.

Predicted finish: 2nd

Although I can see Man City pushing Chelsea all the way this season, I worry that injuries to star players could be their undoing. Aguero’s World Cup was stunted by a recurring hamstring and it concerns me that the fact he played at all in Brazil, may come back to haunt him later on in the season. Yaya Toure has also had a slightly unsettled summer, with his agent possibly trying to push a move through to PSG last month, after ‘birthday cake-gate’. Few would argue that this has not been the best preparation for the two most indispensable players at the club, although I wouldn’t bet against another domestic cup triumph for City in consolation.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Read Man City in 2014/15 – Mangala can help push European ambitions […]

  2. […] Read Man City in 2014/15 – Mangala can help push European ambitions […]

  3. […] Man City in 2014/15 Season Preview […]

  4. […] Man City in 2014/15 Season Preview […]

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