Manuel Pellegrini won the Premier League and the Capital One Cup in his first season in charge of Man City and impressed many, including me. I liked, no I loved his hyper-aggressive strategies and that thirst for goals that never got satiated. The entire 2013-14 season was a thriller with Liverpool and its brilliant Luis Suarez giving City a run for their money. Pellegrini bought some excellent players in that season – Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Martin Demichelis, all of whom were instrumental in clinching both titles. Though they were cheaply eliminated in the F.A. Cup and had to face the wrath of Barcelona in the Champions League, it was still an excellent season for the team. It seemed that City were on the road to complete domination of the English Premier League. Fast-forward to the 2014-15, and City are without any silverware, and they sit second in the Premier League table after a string of poor performances. So just where did everything go wrong?
Well, firstly Pellegrini kept changing his formation throughout the season even though he could have just used the extremely effective one from the previous season. Secondly, he made some rather bad purchases – Fernando being the main one (I just hate that guy) as he has been nothing but mediocre after coming to City from Porto. Wilfried Bony should, in my opinion, not have been bought as City already had Jovetic and Dzeko (seriously, more strikers?) and instead they should have tried to get a solid centre-back to help out City’s defending woes (Mats Hummels anyone?). City also paid a lot for players who really shouldn’t have sold for that much. Eliaquim Mangala seemed like a pretty good buy as his debut was brilliant (it was even against Chelsea!). However, he just hasn’t been able to retain that form.
Speaking of form, a large number of stalwarts have been in and out of form this season – captain, Vincent Kompany and Jesus Navas and Yaya Toure to name three. Additionally, City have stopped playing that hyper-aggressive type of football that they came to be known for (the recent game against QPR being an exception) and are quite happy to kick the ball around in their own half. Defensive lapses are in abundance and that surprises me because City has such amazing defenders.
The first indication that City might struggle this season was when they lost to Arsenal in the Community Shield after a disastrous performance. That was followed by frequent draws giving Chelsea the lead in the title race. By January, City were back to being absolutely and uncannily even to Chelsea in every stat and Chelsea’s recent dip in form suggested that it was City’s time to shine. However, City, a team with a star-studded squad, kept losing to teams in the bottom half of the table giving Chelsea a comfortable lead again. Chelsea weren’t brilliant this season, but they were consistent and that’s why they won the title. City has shown flashes of brilliance, but they were too erratic and made one too many mistakes.
City relied completely on Sergio Aguero’s goal-scoring prowess to carry them through the games and it worked for the most part (remember that game against Bayern Munich? Pure genius!) but, football is a team sport and there’s only so much one man can do. City definitely need a squad overhaul (Pellegrini apparently has that in mind) and the team needs to get rid of some dead weight. My suggestions on who to boot – Fernando (of course), Toure, Dzeko, Jovetic (he’s a promising young player, but it really doesn’t seem like he’s going to see any game time with Kun Aguero and Bony here), Nasri and Navas. City should try to buy – Kevin de Bruyne (we’re apparently trying for him), Pogba (trying for him too), Marco Reus (Pellegrini please!) and Mats Hummels. Pellegrini really shouldn’t be sacked this season because he’s proven himself as a capable manager in his first season, but he really needs to step it up in the 2015-16 season.
There are still two games left in this season and I wish City the best of luck to win those games. Also, congratulations to Chelsea on an extremely stable season – they thoroughly deserved the title. Oh, and kudos to Aguero too, for (almost) securing his golden boot.