City will look to bounce back in 2016/2017
By Paul Stewart, Fri 24 June 2016 10:31
Arrival of Pep Guardiola is cause for great optimism in the blue half of Manchester
Manchester City may have finished the 2015/2016 season as Capital One Cup champions and Champions League semi-finalists, but the team’s failure to mount any sort of challenge for the Premier League title was undoubtedly a disappointment. Some would argue that the decision to reveal Pep Guardiola would take over the hotseat this summer ultimately undermined Manuel Pellegrini and derailed the team when they were building up a head of steam, with results falling by the wayside after January.
The level of inconsistency may have been down to a number of factors, namely the absence of talismanic leader Vincent Kompany through untimely injuries that left City vulnerable in defence at key stages of the season. Scoring goals has never been a problem when Sergio Aguero is firing on all cylinders, with the Argentine star scoring a third of City’s goals as they ended the season as the league’s top scorers. However, having one of the best attacks in the Premier League counts for nothing if the consistency is not there, with just one win from the final five fixtures resulted in City clinging onto their top four spot by the skin of their teeth. The owners and fans alike will hope that Guardiola will make an immediate impact at the club, and while Manchester City have been installed as favourites to win the title in the lastest football odds with Coral, it remains to be seen how the former Barcelona manager adapts to life in the Premier League.
Bringing a manager of Guardiola’s calibre and pedigree to the Etihad is unquestionably a fantastic coup for the club, and it could signal a new dawn under someone who knows how to win trophies. Barcelona and Bayern Munich have been the lucky benefactor of a man who considers every intricate detail of the game to ensure he gets the very best from the players at his disposal, although his spell with the latter proved that Guardiola is also able to be flexible and change tactics to suit their qualities against the opposition. Fans would love to see the tiki-taka brand of football come to the Etihad, and while we can expect Manchester City to apply more pressure further up the pitch and move the ball around quicker, it is unlikely to be boring under Guardiola. This is particularly the case during the Manchester derbies next season as Guardiola will, once again, come face-to-face with his fierce rival Jose Mourinho who replaced Louis Van Gaal at United; Coral fancy both teams to battle it out at the Premier League summit, but those who ask themselves “can Aguero find the net once again?” should be reminded that City failed to score against their local rivals in both games this season. Both games will undoubtedly provide extra spice thanks to the managerial changes, but City fans will hope that Guardiola manages to get one over on his old adversary.
Guardiola has already set about shaping his squad to a real push at knocking Leicester off their perch as Premier League champions, with Ilkay Gundogan the first player to arrive at the Etihad following the German international’s £21 million move from Borussia Dortmund. The 25-year-old will undoubtedly add more drive and vision into an area which required a more technical player to slot alongside Fernando or Fernandinho to offer something different; both Brazilians are more than competent at protecting the back four, but Guardiola values technically-gifted players in midfield to instigate the play and have the creative vision to pick out a killer pass.
Gundogan is highly unlikely to be the only new face at Manchester City next season, with Sheikh Mansour likely to provide Guardiola with all the finances he needs to create a squad that is capable of winning on every front. Fans will have to decipher through fact and fiction from the speculation that emerges from the rumour mill, but if Guardiola strengthens the defensive options and adds another top quality striker to lift the heavy burden off Aguero’s shoulders, then City could be in business next season.