Manchester City will be hoping to win silverware this season after a disappointing, trophy-less 2014/15 campaign in which they finished second in the Premier League, got knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona, were defeated by Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and beaten by Newcastle in the League Cup.
In a bid to improve their team, City have signed 20-year-old contract rebel Raheem Sterling and former Aston Villa captain Fabian Delph. Both are good players, but may have only been signed to increase the number of home-grown English players in their squad.
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard’s loan deal has expired, which could be an issue for Manuel Pellegrini as the ex-England international contributed six goals.
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The versatile, hardworking and reliable James Milner will also be a big miss this term, with him having joining rivals Liverpool on a free transfer.
Delph can bring great energy to the City midfield but it is debatable whether he will be a part of the Citizens' strongest XI. Meanwhile Sterling could turn out to be an excellent signing - he certainly has the potential to be very special - but it may take him a while to gel with his new teammates.
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City signed Sterling for a reported £49million, which many football fans and pundit’s alike feel is far too much. With a price-tag as high as that, there will be a lot of expectation and pressure on the young England international.
In my opinion City failed to improve on what had been a great 2013/14 title-winning season because of Financial Fair Play rules, with Pellegrini only managing to bring a few new faces in.
City won the league with 86 points in the 2013/14 season, scoring an amazing 102 goals, with a goal difference of 65. Last season, however, they only recorded 79 points, finishing eight points behind current league champions Chelsea. They had a goal difference of 45, only managing to score 83 goals.
So the goals dried up too, as City scored 19 less last season in comparison to the year previous. Edin Dzeko was particularly poor, struggling for form and often finding himself on the bench. He only managed to score five goals, which is an awful return for such an accomplished finisher.
Yaya Toure notched a measly 10, compared to scoring 20 goals the previous term. His form was a major factor in the way City’s title challenge turned out last season. The Ivorian is a huge player for City and can be unplayable at times, but poor form, and transfer speculation about his future, distracted him.
Stevan Jovetic’s season was also plagued with injury and he bagged just five goals last season. Wilfried Bony only managed to score two goals in his debut season for City after sealing his £25million move from Swansea in January. It's safe to say the pressure is on one man.
Sergio Aguero looks the only assured striker in the Man City team, but he’s not featured a lot in pre-season after getting an extended break following the Copa America. The Argentina international is unlikely to be completely match fit and will probably take a couple of weeks to regain his tantalising form of last season.
The defence looked very vulnerable last season too, especially the form of Vicent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta, who are both usually very astute performers. This led to City conceding too many simply goals that could have easily been avoided.
City have been linked with Belgium international Kevin De Bruyne, and he certainly would be a fantastic addition to the team. The signing of De Bruyne could give City’s midfield a completely new dynamic and bring plenty of goals and assists.
West Brom's Saido Berahino would also be a great addition to City’s squad and give them more options upfront. It would also increase their numbers of home-grown English players. Paul Pogba is another big option, although the chances of landing him are slim as Juventus are refusing to play ball on that front.
City have plenty of superstars and quality running throughout the whole team, but they still look a bit short upfront and haven’t added a quality central defender to partner captain Kompany.
At the same time Bony and Sterling still need time to settle in with their new teammates, whilst Jovetic and Negredo have both sealed their moves to Inter and Valencia respectively so won't be of any use to Pellegrini moving forward.
City face an enormous task if they want to rekindle their title winning form of 2013/14 and get their hands back on the Premier League trophy. They certainly can push Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all the way, but it looks like they're still missing something for all their big spending.
Football fans, do you think City can pose a realistic threat to their major rivals this season?