Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he feels no sympathy for Manchester City following the club’s two-year ban for breaching financial fair play rules.
Having already landed their biggest target – Pep Guardiola – before the end of last season, the Citizens headed into this summer not really knowing what to expect.
The type of signings Guardiola is used to – promotion through youth at Barcelona and buying the best talent in the league at Bayern – isn’t to be this time around.
City are preferring to concentrate on building a strong squad that can get back in the hunt for the title having finished a distant fourth, last season.
City have gotten busy over summer, bringing in eight new players. The first, Ikay Gundogan, looks to be able to slot into central midfield, provided he can overcome injury issues plaguing him at Borussia Dortmund.
Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus’ transfer fees belie their international reputations, and Guardiola will be relying on their step up to world class to ensure City wrest the title back to Manchester for the first time since 2014. Nolito and Moreno look good depth players too.
However, the Sky Blues’ marquee signing was undoubtedly John Stones. A ball-playing centre-half with Everton, Stones represents exactly what Guardiola is all about: short, indirect passing, with an emphasis on controlling the ball and the game, as well as positional play and creativity. Stones’ £47 million price tag shouldn’t faze him, the Englishman oozes class.
On the selling side, Yaya Toure looks out, as does Samir Nasri, who lacks the creative spark of days gone by. The Frenchman only started four Premier League games last season, and rumours have him headed back to France or even to Spain.
Rumours continue to circle that City may try to move on out-of-form goalkeeper Joe Hart as well.
The Big Questions
Is their enough world class quality in the side?
To play the Guardiola “tiki-taka” style, A-grade talent is required, talent that was aplenty in Catalonia and Munich. City is a different prospect.
Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Vincent Kompany are three undoubtedly world-class players, but can they stay on the park long enough? Against Arsenal in Sweden on Sunday, City’s players looked umcomfortable knocking the ball about. Guardiola’s strength could be City’s undoing
Will Yaya Toure stay?
The short answer looks to be no, as Guardiola clearly does not rate the Ivorian, given their previous history in Spain. However, with no strong suitors, and massive wages, the tide has begun to turn in this particular transfer saga. If he stays, it’ll be in a bit-part role, but a player of Toure’s quality should undoubtedly have something to contribute to the blue half of Manchester this season.
Can Pep do it in England?
By his own admission, the Spainard has never managed on cold, blustery nights, on bad pitches with loud away crowds, and against big, physical English sides who threaten from set pieces. Although Guardiola’s side should dominate at home, expect them to be challenged out of Manchester. Games against West Brom, Hull and Sunderland are big tests.
(4-3-2-1) Hart (GK), Sagna (RB), Kompany (CB), Stones (CB), Clichy (LB), Fernando (CDM), Gundogan (CM), Silva (CM), De Bruyne (RAM), Nilito (LAM), Aguero (ST)
Predicted Finish: 1st