Manchester City are having a woeful start to the campaign on all fronts. Manuel Pellegrini’s defending champions find themselves eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea, they recently suffered a 4th round elimination to Newcastle in their defence of the Capital One Cup, and they are winless in four Champions League games this season.
Pellegrini unsurprisingly finds himself under pressure, and supporters want answers for why they have started the season so disappointingly. The answer is very simple; Manchester City have peaked. They have hit the ceiling, and their gradual decline is right in front of spectators’ eyes.
The Sky Blues have the highest average age in the Premier League (28.9), and one of the oldest outfield players in Frank Lampard (36). City have 15 players at the average peak age (28) or older in their squad, six of whom are above 30. While they may have won the Premier League title and Capital One Cup last season, it’s clear the players haven’t been able to motivate themselves for a title defence, repeating the same mistakes a season after winning the 2011/12 league crown.
Standout players from 2013/14 such as Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Edin Dzeko have looked a shadow this season, and unsurprisingly they have hit their peak age. City have also dropped the same amount of points at the Etihad stadium from 11 games this season (5) as they did during the entirely of 2013/14.
Even at the start of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield was a sign of things to come from Pellegrini’s men, and it could take a large rebuilding process to have the side genuinely challenging for honours again.
Manchester City don’t have a side for the future, they have a team for the present. They’ve delivered too, winning two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Capital One Cup and one Community Shield in the last three years, but that could be where the trophy haul ends until changes are made to replace the ageing out-of-form players for hungry younger talents.
It’s commonly said that winning your second title is much more difficult than your first, due to the difficulty in maintaining high levels of motivation and desire to the players. Manchester City have certainly looked complacent at times this season, playing almost as if they are bulletproof, and resting on their past laurels.
After being on cloud nine in the summer following a league and cup double, Manchester City have been sent crashing back down the earth this season. Have they peaked?