Pep Guardiola's Manchester City: Will the dominance continue?
Pep Guardiola has made a statement of intent by transforming Manchester City into a dominant force in English Football. After an engrossing title race against Liverpool in his third season, he knows that the league is getting tougher.
With Liverpool right under their necks in terms of bench strength and quality, Guardiola knows that the upcoming season will not be a walk in the park. Furthermore, the rest of the Big Six are making progressive steps to challenge Manchester City by making bold investments.
Hence it is a must for Guardiola to fix the weak links and solidify the areas that need improvement.
Rodri: Fernandino's successor?
Fernandino has been an integral part of Guardiola's 4-3-3 as a holding midfielder. He is responsible for the team's transition from defense to attack. However, the 34-year-old is at the twilight of his career and is showing signs of decline.
The Cityzens needed to find his replacement sooner than ever. Guardiola found the final piece that completed his puzzle, Atletico Madrid's Rodri. They signed the 23-year-old for a fee of €70m and has shown early signs that he can take the mantle from Fernandino as Man City's holding midfielder.
Another shot at European glory
It has been eight years since Pep Guardiola last won the UEFA Champions League as a coach. He knows that City's trophy cabinet will never be complete without clinching European glory. However, he hasn't managed to take his team beyond the quarterfinals. In the last three campaigns, Guardiola's side had to bow out after extraordinary ties. A 6-6 away goals loss versus Monaco, a 5-1 annihilation at the hands of Liverpool, and most recently a drammartic tie against Tottenham that had VARs influence till the final whistle.
Manchester City will be looking to put their uncanny eliminations in the past and try winning their first-ever Champions League title.
Expectations for this season
The 2019-20 season will be Guardiola's 4th year in England. Manchester City will hope to win the Premier League for the third consecutive time by displaying higher grades of grit and consistency. Liverpool, on the other hand, will look to dethrone the Cityzens and win their maiden Premier League title. Aside from Rodri, City have signed left-back Angelino from PSV Eindhoven to increase their options at the back.
Kevin De Bruyne will hope to put his injury-plagued season behind him. Guardiola will not need any attacking reinforcements. However, his only concern will be convincing Leroy Sane to stay, with Bayern Munich heavily interested in signing the 23-year-old German.
Guardiola will be setting his eyes on all trophies and certainly prioritize the UCL. He has managed to transform City into one of the best teams in the world. They are capable enough to give the usual favorites Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus a run for their money. However, he needs to change his approach towards 2-legged-ties, where he prefers to play conservative football in the first leg.
Manchester City will lock horns against Liverpool on Sunday for the Community Shield. Guardiola will aim at starting the season with a trophy and build momentum for a difficult season. The Spaniard is known for breaking records, and he will be hoping to set one, by making his side the first English team to win the quadruple.