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In the excitement of the new season, supporters are often guilty of creating over-the-top expectations and landing up disappointed when the clubs fail to meet those objectives. Often all we need is a bit of perspective from experts to maintain rational thought; our Q&A mini-series going into the 2014/15 season serves this purpose.
Danny Pugsley is the expert for this Q&A as he answers our questions on Manchester City. Danny is Metro’s Manchester City writers and editor of Bitter and Blue.Pellegrini brought in a lot of his players last season, and did a splendid job winning the league. This season, it’s going to be a bit different, as his side isn’t the most powerful looking line up. How will the the man cope with the improvement some of the others have shown?
I’d disagree that it isn’t a powerful looking side. Certainly City haven’t grabbed the headlines others have done, but this is because there was no reason to. The current regime at the club are very understated in their transfer dealings but have quietly and diligently added the pieces they identified at the end of last season.
Others have improved but I look around the signings others have made and I don’t see many – if any – that would have strengthened City’s side.
Although Martin Demichelis has been unfairly critcised, besides Vincent Kompany, City’s defensive options seems to be rather weak. Matija Nastasic’s return certainly is beneficial, but there isn’t much beyond that with Karim Rekik expected to go out loan. Do you see it as an issue?
With the addition of Eliaquim Mangala, after a long and protracted deal, the depth is there and Manuel Pellegrini has gushed about him after he signed. This provides a four man central offering of Mangala, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis and Matija Nastasic. That should provide requisite depth, the issue will be in Mangala settling in early and the fitness of others, which was a big concern last season.
Frank Lampard is an interesting addition to the side. Realistically, what’s his role going to be?
I suspect he will probably feature more than I first imagined. I thought he would be a useful squad player with the capacity to step in when needed but was primarily there for fitness ahead of his MLS move.
With the impending departure of Javi Garcia, Yaya Toure away to the African Cup of Nations and a need to keep players fresh for the latter part of the season it may well be that Lampard – fitness permitting – is utilized a fair amount between now and January.
Alvaro Negredo was a key player in the first half of the season, but his form petered out as the season progressed. How concerning is this?
Potentially it is. The concern is that we saw his ultimate peak at the start of last season and that his ‘true’ form is a step lower than that. However, there was no doubt he was restricted by injury and needed to play due to the absence of Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic so it may be unfair to suggest this.
We also saw his best form alongside Aguero so the hope will be that the pair can get fit, although Negredo has some way to go yet to get over his recent injury.
We track the progress and performances of youngsters with our Talent Radar feature. Matija Nastasic is the only realistic regular feature in the side, but is there any youngster who you see getting some sort of opportunity (U-21) ?
No, not yet. City has plenty of talent coming through but none that are ready yet. The most likely candidates over the coming seasons you think would be Karim Rekik, Emyr Huws and Marco Lopes.
Manchester City have found success with domestic competitions but have been less than impressive in Europe. Besides having encountered Barcelona, what could be the reason for their continental failures?
Don’t underestimate the tough groups they had in the first two seasons, which provided a difficult task they perhaps weren’t quite ready for at that point. Last season may have been a missed opportunity in that I think there was a sense of having done the job with qualification and not really believing they could beat Barcelona. You hope now that the side has grown together in stature and can take that next step.
Compared to previous seasons this hasn’t been as unspectacular a window as we’ve come to expect from City. Is this a concern or a suggestion that a dependable core base is being established?
I probably covered this earlier but they are at a position now when they don’t need to throw money here, there and everywhere to strengthen. Such is the core quality now that only few additions are needed, and these need to be of a certain quality.
The goalkeeping situation at City is interesting with Willy Caballero not one to settle for a back-up spot. How do you see this developing?
I think Hart will start, although I expect Caballero will get an opportunity at some point. I don’t like the idea of two number one’s competing in goal, preferring a defining of the positions. Pellegrini is a big fan of Caballero so it is logical to expect he will get his chance at some point.
Obviously a better European challenge is expected, but what are expectations in general among City supporters? Is a trophy a necessity? And given that the owners will be evaluating their investments, could this be a deciding factor for Pellegrini’s future at the club?
I don’t see Pellegrini’s future as being under threat regardless of how City perform this season. Don’t forget, Roberto Mancini was not sacked because of on field results but at a concern over the breakdown of his relationship with the squad. Pellegrini has no such concerns there. Of course expectations are high though and silverware will be expected but it would take something for Pellegrini’s position to come under any sort of scrutiny.
Questions answered by Danny Pugsley. Follow him on Twitter @danny_pugsley