Sterling with City

Image: Reuters

It’s hard to count out any team that has Sergio Aguero and Yaya Touré on it. After coming up short last season in their attempt to win back-to-back titles, Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City look set to launch another title challenge this season and another year without a trophy could cause major changes at the Etihad when next summer hits. The Sky Blues of Northern England have made the most expensive signing of the summer and with the astronomical wage bill being spent on the roster, anything less than the title will be seen as a failure. How will Pellegrini’s men deal with the pressure?

The new man of the hour for City is former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling. The 20-year-old joins the Citizens after an ugly, drawn out divorce with his Merseyside club and some fans around the league will be hoping for a quick downfall. It costs Manchester City nearly £50 million to bring in the young English winger, and this massive price tag immediately puts pressure on Sterling to be a difference maker with his new club. Last season, Sterling’s youth was evident throughout the campaign as a lack of consistency limited his effectiveness. At times, he looked like a world-beater on the field, and a week later he would almost go into hiding. At Liverpool, this inconsistency was more tolerated, but now that someone has spent a small fortune to bring him to the Etihad, I doubt that fans will be nearly as forgiving. Will Sterling embrace the spotlight, or shrink under the attention?

Even if Sterling doesn’t work out in the attack, Manchester City still have one of the most dangerous strikers in the world at their disposal. Few possess the mixture of pace, strength and finishing touch that Sergio Aguero possesses, and since his title-winning goal against QPR in 2012 City fans see the Argentine as a club legend. In his four years with the club, Aguero has recorded a strike rate of a goal every 1.5 games (78 goals in 120 games). Last season, the 27-year-old won the league’s Golden Boot with 26 goals and if he is able to form a partnership with Sterling similar to his one with David Silva, we could see that goal tally grow even higher next year. Sergio Aguero was the best striker in the league last year and I think that he is going to be one of the best, if not the best in the league this year as well.

Toure scores for Man City

Another consistent star over the years for the Sky Blues has been their Ivorian center midfielder Yaya Touré. Since he joined the club from Barcelona five years ago, Touré has been the key cog in the machine that is Manchester City’s midfield. His ability to control matches with his passing, while also being able to score absolute thunderbolts with his rocket of a leg makes the 32-year-old a constant threat in the offensive third of the field, but the most impressive part of his game has to be in defense. His sheer size and physicality make him a force to be reckoned with in defense, but when you add in his ability to read the game and break up plays, Touré becomes a near brick wall in the center of the park. As the Ivorian edges further along the wrong side of 30, however, fans have to wonder whether or not he can keep up his physical play throughout another long season.

Manchester City is not a club known for its loyalty to managers. In the last ten years, the club has had six managers and only one has lasted more than three seasons (Roberto Mancini – 3 ½). Even after leading City to the title two years ago, and a second place finish last season, some believe that this could be Manuel Pellegrini’s last year at the club regardless of the result and rumors are beginning to circulate that Pep Guardiola has already agreed to take over the club next season. The Chilean manager seems to have lost the faith of some City faithful and it seems anything less than a league title will end with an axing come May.

Per usual, City will be expected to immediately compete not just for a Champions League spot, but also for the top of the table. As much as I hate seeing the Citizens succeed, I have a feeling they’re going to be up near the top at the end of the season. Can they claim a second title in three years?


Tags: , , , ,