The notion of starting as you mean to go on is vital in the Premier League, perhaps more so than anyone division in world football.
Manchester City have done exactly that this season, collecting ten from a possible 12 points in the early stages of their bid to clinch a second consecutive title and fourth in seven years.
After beating Chelsea in the Community Shield, Pep Guardiola has watched his side breeze past Arsenal 2-0 and Huddersfield 6-1 before being held 1-1 at Wolves.
The champions returned to winning ways at the first time of asking, though, overcoming Newcastle in a relatively comfortable 2-1 victory at the Etihad.
That leaves City fourth on the table, two points adrift of the three-club benchmark set by Liverpool, Chelsea and Watford.
Despite their strong displays so far, one of Guardiola’s key men has been prevented from exerting his influence in season 2018-19.
Kevin De Bruyne - the Sky Blues’ reigning Player of the Season after contributing eight goals and 16 assists last term - suffered a nasty training injury in mid-August to rule him out for three months.
While others are capable of picking up the slack, it’s no secret Guardiola’s men are definitely a more potent outfit when he’s on the pitch and in the mood.
City are blessed with several players who would be the star man of just about any team on the planet, though De Bruyne is unquestionably the main man in the blue half of Manchester.
The opinion of his manager is glowing to put it lightly, so much so that he claims the new six-year contract he signed in January contains a whopping release clause.
"He's very good. He's a very dynamic player," Guardiola told Universo Valdano, via the Mirror.
"[Leeds United boss] Marcelo Bielsa told me he was his favourite player. He does everything.
"The other day, I met his parents and you often understand how the children are when you know the parents.
"He's an incredible boy. The clause is €250 million [£223 million]. I'm sorry, he's not for sale.”
DE BRUYNE NOT FOR SALE
According to the club’s latest accounts, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan has invested £1.3 billion of his own funds since taking over in 2008, so it’s understandable he wants to protect the most precious playing staff.
That said, paying £223 million for a player like De Bruyne isn’t too far-flung in light of what Paris Saint-Germain forked out to nab Neymar from Barcelona.
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