The king is dead! Long live the king! There were cries of disapproval from Manchester City fans when Roberto Mancini was fired at the end of last season. But a brand new manager and £86m worth of investments later, the cries have died down into whimpers. The pessimism that hung in the air around the Etihad Stadium has been replaced by a sense of expectancy.
The fans will expect Manuel Pellegrini to regain the title from their city rivals United and for good reason! The Citizens have a number of factors in their favour. Their neighbours have been weakened by the retirement of a legendary manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, while rivals Arsenal have largely stood still. Only a resurgent Chelsea under Jose Mourinho have spent as much as City this season.
Attack is one area where the Sky Blues have undergone a complete overhaul. Carlos Tevez has finally departed for Juventus and the ghost of Mario Balotelli no longer lingers at their Carrington training centre. Replacing them are Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla and Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina, worth a combined total of £45m.
Whether the duo are as good as the men that they have replaced is debatable, but there is no doubt that City have strengthened their midfield a great deal. Providing steel in the engine room will be £30m midfield man Fernandinho who arrived from Shaktar, while Spaniard Jesus Navas from Sevilla will lend pace on the wings. Add the duo to the stars already at the club and you have a midfield that can dominate any team on its day!
One of the strangest aspects of City’s transfer activity this summer has been their failure to strengthen their defence. A number of inconsistent performances at the back led to their downfall last season, and one could have been forgiven for expecting Pellegrini to rope in an extra defender or two. Rumours are still abound that Portuguese centreback Pepe might arrive from Real Madrid, but in the event that no one arrives, the pressure will be on captain Kompany to stay fit for most of the season.
But as the season kicks off, all eyes will be transfixed on Pellegrini himself. His predecessor was blamed for everything that went wrong at the Etihad Stadium last year. Can the Chilean help the noisy neighbours paint Manchester blue?