In 2008 The Abu Dhabi United Group, a conglomerate owned chiefly by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, swooped in to buy Manchester City with the club on the verge of bankruptcy. Since the takeover, the owners of Manchester City have invested heavily to attract some of the most talented footballers on the planet to create a new powerhouse in English football.
Last season, at the end of a thrilling climax Manchester City edged a spectacular Liverpool side by two points to claim the Premier League trophy for the second time in the club’s history. With new manager Manuel Pellegrini in charge, City produced a refreshing brand of attacking football letting the immensely talented team to play with a lot of purpose and swagger, especially in their home games. Winning 17 of their 19 games at the Etihad Stadium including memorable victories against Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, it was City’s terrific home form which proved to be the decisive factor at the end of a topsy-turvy title race.
On their way to the Premier League crown City also scored a club record of 102 goals as their new style of play under Manuel Pellegrini turned City into a relentless attacking unit. There were a few question marks over Pellegrini when he took over at City a year ago and he has answered those questions in superb fashion – by winning the league. The Chilean is only the third manager after Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancellotti to capture the Premier League title in their very first attempt.
This summer City has remained fairly quiet in the transfer window unlike in recent years when it has not been shy of splashing the cash for marquee players. Now with the UEFA‘s Financial Fair Play rules looming over them, Pellegrini has been forced to more tread more cautiously making just four additions to his team.
Recently City paid £32 million to FC Porto for Eliaquim Mangala as the Frenchman had been on Pellegrini’s wish-list for a long time now. That piece of business was their only big-money deal and in all probability their last signing of the summer. The highly rated centre-back not only has an imposing physical presence and defending skills but also possesses fantastic ball control and passing ability. The 23 year old France international will play a vital role at the heart of City’s defence along with Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichellis, both of whom are prone to injuries.
Earlier in the summer, City had already signed Mangala’s Porto teammate Fernando for an undisclosed fee understood to be at around £14 million. The Brazilian is a tough-tackling midfielder who will add more grit and combativeness to the midfield while giving added cover to the defence. Argentine goalkeeper Willy Cabalero was another to come into City during the off-season, joining from Pellegrini’s former club Malaga. Although Joe Hart has sufficiently recovered from his slump in form, the addition of Cabalero should provide sufficient competition to the England no.1 to keep him on his toes. Besides Pellegrini now has a seasoned keeper on the bench, one with whom he worked with before and will fit in smoothly with his system.
Meanwhile in a surprising move, Bacary Sagna has switched over to Manchester City from Arsenal on a free transfer bringing an end to the French right-back’s seven-year stint in North London. Sagna joined compatriots Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri to become the third Arsenal player to move to Eastlands in recent years.
Yet more eyebrows were raised when City secured Chelsea legend Frank Lampard on a six-month loan from New York City FC. Lampard was set for United States after being released by Chelsea over the summer but since he would not be able to play in the MLS until next year a loan deal was arranged between the two clubs who have the same owners – the Abu Dhabi United Group. However, with the depth of squad at Pellegrini’s disposal, it is quite unlikely that Lampard will play any significant part in Pellegrini’s plans for the new season.
Being the defending champions of the English Premier League, Manchester City will definitely start the new season with an excelent chance of retaining the title. Despite losing some key squad players like Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia and Costel Pantilimon, Pellegrini has retained the core of his first team which performed so admirably last season. With the likes of Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Sergio Aguero amongst their ranks, City are one of strongest teams in Europe capable of wreaking havoc upon any team on its day.