Man City mustn’t stand still in this summer’s transfer market

Manchester City have set a new precedent at the top of the English game over the past two seasons, registering a combined 198 points over the 2017/18 and 2018/19 campaigns, collecting two Premier League titles. No team has dominated the English top flight like they have of late.

It’s difficult to envisage how Pep Guardiola’s side can possibly improve on what they have achieved over the past two seasons. And yet there are still some deficiencies to be addressed this summer. In terms of personnel, they could afford to strengthen in some areas before the start of the new season.

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There have been rumours. Atletico Madrid Rodri was deemed to be their number one target. Tanguy Ndombele has also been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium this summer, although Tottenham Hotspur now seem to have skipped ahead of City in the race to sign the Lyon man.

Ben Chilwell has been mentioned, as has Aaron Wan-Bissaka as doubts around Man City’s current full back options persist. More recently, it has been reported that Joao Felix is edging closer to the Abu Dhabi-owned outfit, with City thought to be willing to loan the teenager back to Benfica for at least one season.

Despite all this speculation Man City have yet to make a single move this summer. The clock is already ticking with the Premier League’s transfer deadline two weeks before the rest of Europe’s. Some have started to suggest that City don’t need to make a signing or two before that deadline passes.

That would be a mistake, though. With Liverpool only getting better with every season under Jurgen Klopp Man City cannot afford to stand still this summer. The Etihad Stadium side have done that before as Premier League champions, both under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, and have been made to pay the price.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that history could repeat itself if City start the 2019/20 season with the same squad, especially if Liverpool spend big again this summer. What’s more, Guardiola is still to deliver on the objective he was hired on the basis of on the first place. City are still some way from being European champions.

The best teams always seek to improve on past results no matter how impressive they are. Man City’s results over the past two seasons could barely be more impressive, but that doesn’t mean that they will continue to be impressive indefinitely. City, as they have done in each of the past few years, must spend.

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Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Ederson

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A huge part of Manchester City’s Premier League title win has to come down to goalkeeper Ederson, full name Ederson Moraes who was like a wall in goal. This was evidenced in the fact that he kept 20 clean sheets, just one less than Liverpool’s Alisson.

While Alisson could arguably be seen as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season what is so impressive about Ederson’s season is that he cost £35m to City, half of what Alisson cost and basically Ederson seemed to match Alisson game for game. It will be a headache of course for the Brazilian national team who have arguably their best 2 goalkeepers in their history- but at the same time!

In the Premier League Fantasy rankings Ederson finished in 2nd place for the goalkeepers and got 130 points, just six less than Alisson. His value was the same as Alisson’s at 10m.

Personally Ederson had a fantastic season with Manchester City not only winning an historic league title which was the first back to back win for the club but also picking up the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup which means that Ederson became the first ever goalkeeper in English history to win a domestic treble.

Ederson started the campaign off in fantastic style earning 7 points when City beat Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates. Against Huddersfield he was set to earn zero points but he actually created an assist for Sergio Aguero as City won 6-1 and so earned 2 points, and thus became the first ever City goalkeeper to complete an assist.

Ederson’s best points total was 7 which he wasn’t able to beat and would be rare to do so but he got 7 points on no less than 20 times which included earning that amount on 4 games in a row towards the end of the season when City were picking off opponents seemingly by the same score line of 1-0.

The Brazilian has had to fight off challengers from Joe Hart and then Claudio Bravo to keep his place as the number 1 goalkeeper for City and one of those reasons isn’t just because he is one of the best shot stoppers in the game. It is no secret that City manager Pep Guardiola loves keepers who will quickly distribute the ball forward if they come into contact with the ball and keep the game flowing in a natural attacking way, and Ederson is one of the best goalkeepers in the business at doing that.

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Is Leroy Sane’s time at Manchester City coming to an end?

Leroy Sane

Manchester City forward Leroy Sane is the latest to be wanted by German champions Bayern Munich as they look to build on their championship winning squad. The 23-year-old has garnered interest with the Bavarians looking to replace the departing Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Continue reading

Pep Guardiola’s time at Manchester City will not be complete without Champions League win

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There has been much praise towards Manchester City after their fantastic league win which they converted into a domestic treble at the weekend. Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League, the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup when they destroyed Watford 6-0. That was the joint equal highest score in a cup final since Bury won in 1903 and it is the first time ever that a domestic treble has been won in England.

This is all good news but super rich City and super slick Guardiola are missing one big trophy in the cabinet and that is the Champions League.

Manchester City have never won the competition even in the old style format of the European Cup, the nearest they have been is the semi-finals. It is a trophy that Guardiola as a manager has won two times before and yet both of those were with Barcelona and he hasn’t had his hands around the famous silver trophy since 2011 when Barcelona made light work of Manchester United.

Eight years is a long time in football and despite Guardiola’s successes at both Bayern Munich and City that trophy has eluded him for almost a decade. Guardiola will not want to leave the club without winning it, doing so considering all of the money that he has spent would feel as if something was missing.

If we compared how Chelsea and City have progressed after their big money takeovers, then it is Chelsea who have achieved more in a shorter space of time. Five years after Roman Abramovich took over the club and ploughed millions into the team Chelsea reached a Champions League final and in all it took the club 9 years to win it. City’s takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group commenced in 2008 and therefore the club have had a significant budget for 11 years and have not been able to reach the final of the Champions League.

Of course City are now stamping their authority on the Premier League just as their rivals Manchester United did for the past 20 years before, but football has become more than just winning your own league. Look at Barcelona, PSG and Juventus to see evident of that. Yes all happy teams and their achievements still fantastic but all are aiming for the bigger prize in their owners minds of Champions League glory. Guardiola recently admitted it himself, and it is clear that his legacy at City is going to be judged on it.

Pep Guardiola’s strive for greatness brings the best out of Raheem Sterling

“The boy who grew up in the shadow of the Wembley arch.” A tattoo on his left forearm depicts a young Raheem Sterling wearing his favourite No. 10 shirt, holding a football and looking at the famous Wembley arch. To the Englishman, this place has always been home. It’s only fitting that Sterling bagged a brace in his first FA Cup final for Manchester City. Continue reading

Treble would be Pep Guardiola’s crowning achievement in England

When Pep Guardiola arrived in England, becoming Manchester City’s new manager in the summer of 2016, they said he would find a very different environment to the one he’d made his own so emphatically in Germany and Spain. Across the board, it was claimed that the Catalan coach would receive the test of his career in the Premier League.

How those suggestions look foolish now. Guardiola has done to the English game exactly what he did to both the  Bundesliga and La Liga, winning back-to-back Premier League titles, collecting an astonishing 198 points over those two seasons. And City’s dominance could be underlined further still this weekend.

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Indeed, Guardiola can complete a treble of domestic trophies by leading Man City to victory over Watford in the FA Cup final. It might not be The Treble, which traditionally comprises the Champions League trophy, but a clean sweep of domestic honours would provide a stark illustration of where City are as a team and a club right now.

Not even Sir Alex Ferguson’s Treble-winning team of 1999 were as dominant of the English game as Man City are now. Guardiola and his players stand on the brink of an historic achievement, but not even the sight of three domestic trophies in the cabinet at the end of this season will effectively reflect the quality of this team.

They might get even better next season. Guardiola is relentless in his quest for excellence and so it has been speculated that City will sign a long term replacement for the ageing Fernandinho this summer and possibly even a new right back. Ben Chilwell, a left back, has also been spoken about for quite some time.

The English game is entering a new phase in its history. City are kings and it will take an almighty effort to dethrone them. Liverpool, of course, finished just one point behind the Etihad Stadium side in the Premier League table and yet the gulf felt somewhat bigger than that. Liverpool gave everything the had to stretch to 97 points. City, on the other hand, strolled to 98.

Guardiola always viewed England as the true litmus test of his managerial ability. Whether that was warranted or not, he has succeeded in glorious fashion. Victory on Saturday would provide Guardiola with his crowning achievement in English football.

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Money wasn’t key to Manchester City’s title win over Liverpool- Pep Guardiola was

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Congratulations to Manchester City for winning back to back titles for the first time in the history of the club. They were tested until the very final moments of the season over 9 long months and this title win will be extra special given just how strong Liverpool were.

City needed to win their last 14 games in a row which is a staggering achievement to fend off Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team and finished with 98 points, the records and plaudits will keep on coming for a very special side.

Of course money has changed the club from a side who just a decade ago were struggling in the lower leagues, being the reliable other half of Manchester who would gain promotion only to fight relegation season after season. An odd victory over a top 4 side was deemed as the best it could get once upon a time for City. So since the cash injection earlier this decade, the trophies have followed.

However this season and the way that City won it was down to Pep Guardiola’s guidance. Yes it is easy to criticise him, he seems to only go to the biggest clubs with the largest wallets. But to win this season and take the title from the hands of Liverpool (remember at the turn of the year Liverpool,had a 7 point advantage) to do that was down to skilful man management. This is where Guardiola earned his money this season.

It is obvious that Guardiola sits one on one with his players and has turned many of them from very good players to world class ones. Look at how Raheem Sterling has come on in the past 18 months, the change has been massive. And not only does Guardiola make players better, he shares what Arsene Wenger did when he first came to Arsenal in that he impacts players personal lives too, from dieting to their psychological positive input. It means that when City were under pressure to win games, they just kept on rolling out the wins, whatever Liverpool can do we can do just that little better, that was the message here.

For Liverpool you wonder what will happen next, 29 years for a title now and when you finish on 97 points and have lost just 1 game the whole season which was against City, you wonder what else you have to do to get that title. Most seasons that points haul would have easily have been enough to win the title. Next season how do Liverpool approach it, more of the same, but they have such a great rival to contend with.

The good news for the Reds is that they have the Champions League final against Tottenham as a consolation. Surely it would be unthinkable to have Liverpool end the season with nothing again after their heroics over the past year, but you never know.

Manchester City have Sergio Aguero to thank for their Premier League campaign

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Just how important may Sergio Aguero’s goal against Burnley be for Manchester City come the end of the season. The Argentine’s decisive goal has placed Pep Guardiola’s side back to the summit of the Premier League above Liverpool, with just two games remaining. Continue reading

Recent rumours demonstrate the coherence of Man City’s transfer strategy

There’s a scene in the Amazon Prime docuseries ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’ in which the curtain is pulled back on the club’s transfer methods. City Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, is joined around a conference room table at the club’s Etihad Campus by various scouting and recruitment figures. In this setting they discuss the way forward in the transfer market.

A serious injury suffered by Benjamin Mendy has raised the prospect that a replacement might have to be signed in January. Begiristain and his staff, however, already have a shortlist of potential targets drawn up. This is the sort of holistic thinking that hasn’t just seen Man City spend big in recent years, but spend smart too.

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Recent rumours linking them with Rodri, Tanguy Ndombele and Florentino Luis underline this. None of these players would be the kind of blockbuster signings to truly excite supporters, but Man City need a central midfielder to eventually succeed the ageing Fernandinho and these three certainly fit the bill.

When City need a certain type of player, a player to fill a position, they draw up a list that gives them different avenues to explore. It could be that they are priced out of a move for Rodri by Atletico Madrid this summer, with the Spanish side desperate to keep the young midfielder. In that case, they would move on to Ndombele, who might be more affordable, or even Luis, who would be the easiest of the trio to lure given Benfica’s status as a selling club.

This sort of strategising is in stark contrast to what we see from some of City’s Premier League rivals, most notably Manchester United. The Old Trafford outfit have the resources to compete with Man City in the transfer market, but they lack the structure and approach of their rivals. Even now, with a summer overhaul expected, there is no sense of a plan in place at United like there is at City.

It’s unlikely that this summer will be a blockbuster one for Manchester City in the transfer market. The core of their team will remain, as it should, with only a handful of signings, at most, made. But it’s this gradual replenishment of the team that has sustained City as a force for so long and it looks set to continue, at least on the basis of recent rumours.

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If Manchester City win the Premier League it could be Pep Guardiola’s most crowning success

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What a season it has been in the English Premier League a two way tussle for the league title has been between Manchester City and Liverpool for the past 5 months and they can barely be separated as we come into the last 4 games of the season. Just who will win the league?

Manchester City as champions remain the bookmakers favourite to retain their crown, but the public seem to be swaying for Liverpool, maybe it is the better story, since the Reds have not won a league title since 1990. Indeed the last time Liverpool won the league the Premier League in its current format did not even exist.

Manchester City can go a long way to knowing if they will be crowned champions by beating Manchester United tonight in the derby. Liverpool are currently in first place with 88 points and are 2 points clear of City- but City have this game in hand and could move one point clear at the top with just three games left to play.

It is incredible to think that if City and Liverpool win all of their remaining games that Liverpool would end up on 97 points and still lose the league title. The teams have really pushed each other to the extent that they have improved each other too in what has been an incredible title run in. We are not seeing such runs in in La Liga where Barcelona are close to wrapping up another title, in France and Italy the league champions were known this past weekend with PSG and Juventus respectively winning their leagues. But in England this one looks like going down to the wire.

In that respect one could fathom that this title if it is to be City’s would be Pep Guardiola’s hardest title he has ever won. Let’s face it with Barcelona and Bayern Munich there was never much of a challenge. Sure Real Madrid lurked in the back but were half the team they have been in the past few seasons and at Bayern there seemed to be even less of a challenge.

Even last season in the EPL City romped home to a league title with weeks and games to spare winning the league by almost 20 points. But this season has proved differently and in short a Guardiola team has never had to be this consistent and relentless to win a title. It is why if City win it wouldn’t be a shock despite Guardiola’s bulging trophy cabinet and even all of those glorious Champions League wins at Barcelona if he was to say that this was the hardest trophy to win and with that the most crowning success of his career.

Guardiola isn’t just trying to achieve dreams at City this season by winning back to back titles he is also trying to quash the ultimate one for Liverpool, this is taking its fullest psychological toll on both himself and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. The story continues tonight and then again at the weekend for the right to be called the new champions of England, and what a story it has been.