Last season: 2nd
It’s a new era at Manchester City following the dysfunctional nature of Roberto Mancini’s final year in charge at Eastlands. Unfortunately for the Italian there was no way back for him after the FA Cup Final defeat at the hands of relegated Wigan, where City put in such an abject performance that they looked a desperate shadow of their title winning selves.
Poor transfer business last summer didn’t help Mancini’s cause, with the likes of Javi Garcia, Maicon and Scott Sinclair weakening the squad, as opposed to reinforcing it. Mancini’s replacement, Manuel Pellegrini, will have to unify a fractured squad and has already begun clearing some deadwood out and bringing in new, exciting players.
Carlos Tevez was first out the door, as he joined Juventus, with the pitiful Maicon quickly flying out to Italy as well and Roma. In their place comes attacking enigma Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, who have awoken the fans during a promising pre-season for the Blues.
These attacking outlets have returned City to their free flowing best, if one can use friendlies as an accurate gauge. Even Edin Dzeko has looked like a top class striker in the last few weeks, something he failed to do for long spells under Mancini.
Pellegrini will be looking to win a trophy even though it's his first year at the helm, as that is what is required in East Manchester now. But he will mainly be judged on how his side do in the Champions League, a competition Mancini failed in miserably, having been eliminated in the group stages on both occasions.
The only squad issues left for the Chilean are in defence where he has suffered a blow by losing City’s Young Player of the Season Matija Nastasic for at least the first month of the new season. He will be forced to insert Joleon Lescott into the vacant spot, but only has Micah Richards, who hasn’t played centre-back for a long time, and Dedryck Boyata, who struggled in the top flight, as cover.
With a little more unity and desire to perform regularly from the players, then City should be able to put together a better title challenge this year, and man-manager Pellegrini looks like the chap to turn things around in the race to pip rivals United and Chelsea.
Ins: Jesus Navas (Sevilla, £14.19m), Fernandinho (Shakthar Donetsk, £22m), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla, £20m), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina, £22m)
Outs: Wayne Bridge (Reading, free), Filippo Mancini (Released), Ryan McGivern (Hibernian, free), Roque Santa Cruz (Released), Kolo Toure (Liverpool, free), Carlos Tevez (Juventus, £7.6m), Jeremy Helan (Sheff Wed, undisc), Maicon (Roma, undisc)
- Preview: Arsenal
- Preview: Aston Villa
- Preview: Cardiff
- Preview: Chelsea
- Preview: Crystal Palace
- Preview: Everton
- Preview: Fulham
- Preview: Hull City Tigers
One to watch: Jesus Navas. The Spain international isn’t exactly an unknown quantity in European football, but he hasn’t had too much exposure outside his homeland. A tricky winger, who can get to the byline and provide service for City’s plethora of strikers.
Something to prove: Samir Nasri. This could be a number of people, with Kolarov, Garcia and Sinclair all coming off the back of atrocious seasons, but they won’t play much this time around. The petulant Frenchman at least has some talent, but has only been willing to show it once a month since joining the Blues.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Title odds: 9/4
Your view on who City's best new signing is...
@itvfootball Intrigued to see what Fernandinho can do in engine room