Season review: Manchester City
Before the 2013/14 season had even begun, Manchester City were considered to be the favourites for the Premier League title by many fans and experts alike. In the end they did not disappoint, although the title race ended up going down to the wire yet again with City sealing the win only on the last day of the League. There wasn’t another Aguero moment in the making though, as City finished the season two points clear of second-placed Liverpool. In the end, Manuel Pellegrini won both the Premier League and the Capital One Cup, thus capping off a very successful first season for the Chilean manager.
City were one of the busiest clubs during the summer of 2013. Not only did they end up signing 5 different players, they also appointed a new manager in Manuel Pellegrini. Before appointing Pellegrini, the club had managed to sign midfielder Fernandino from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30M. And once Pellegrini was appointed, he wasted no time getting down to work and immediately signed Spanish winger Jesus Navas from Sevilla for a reported £14.9M. The signing of Navas’ Sevilla team-mate Alvaro Negredo soon followed, this time for a reported £20M. City also managed to secure the signature of Serbian forward Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina for around £22M. Before the closing of the transfer window, Pellegrini signed Argentine centre-back Martin Demichelis for £4M as a back-up option.
The club also saw Gareth Barry and Scott Sinclair leave the club on loan deals. Barry joined Everton and Sinclair was snapped up by West Bromwich Albion.
In total, City spent around £91M improving a squad that was already pretty strong to begin with. It made them firm favourites for the Premier League title, but it also added pressure on the new manager: if they failed to secure any silverware even after such heavy investment, doubts would certainly be cast over his ability and maybe even his future at the club. However, any rival fans expcting or wanting Pellegrini to fail didn’t get their wish.
Positives and negatives
One of City’s biggest positives throughout the season was the style of football they employed. The 2012/13 season was often charecterised by dour and unattractive football under Roberto Mancini, and they lost the free-flowing style they had employed in their League-winning campaign. The fact that Mancini had succeeded in alienating a few key players didn’t exactly help his cause. However, they regained their mojo under Pellegrini. On their day they were both a joy to watch as well as unbeatable. They scored 102 goals in the League, which was one short of Chelsea’s record of 103 goals in one League campaign.
Their campaign started off with a 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle United, which proved to be a sign of things to come. They weren’t just flat-track bullies either; they beat local rivals Manchester United 4-1 at the Etihad and 3-0 at Old Trafford. They also managed to put 6 goals past both Tottenham and and Arsenal when they visited the Etihad. Tottenham would also feel the wrath of City at White Hart Lane as they scored 5 goals against their beleagured opponents.
Pellegrini was successful in getting the best out of both David Silva and Samir Nasri, and the two attacking midfielders were regular starters for City, contributing a total of 14 goals and 16 assists in the League between them. Nasri made the left-wing position his own and Silva was used either on the right-wing or in a more central role depending on what formation Pellegrini employed on the day.
Yaya Toure also discovered a new level of form under the Chilean manager. With Fernandinho providing plenty of defensive cover, the Ivorian midfielder was given an extremely free role in attack and the move paid off handsomely; he scored 20 goals and contributed 9 assists in the League, becoming the first midfielder since Frank Lampard to notch up 20 League goals in a single campaign. Fernandinho also did well enough in his preferred defensive midfield role to earn plaudits from football experts and fans alike.