It has been a summer of change at the top of the Premier League with new managers in place at the clubs that occupied the top three places in last season’s final standings. David Moyes has taken over the hot seat at Man United, Jose Mourinho has returned to Stamford Bridge and Man City have chosen to appoint Manuel Pellegrini as their new gaffer following the departure of Roberto Mancini.
Moyes and Mourinho are well versed to Premier League life but Pellegrini is something of an unknown quantity when it comes to the English game. We know that the Chilean has had relative success in Spain with the likes of Malaga and Villarreal while he also had a season in charge of Real Madrid, but exactly how will he do in the Premier League at the first time of asking?
The first impressions of Pellegrini are good; he speaks perfect English, which is a bonus, and seems to be the sort of manager who will quickly earn the respect of the players. Last season, Man City were 11 points behind their local rivals in the Premier League title race but the early signs ahead of the new season suggest that they could be capable of bridging that gap.
Some big names have arrived at the Etihad over the summer, including Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo; all of whom have signed for the club for more than £20million each, with the quartet costing the club a combined total of £99.3 million!
Navas in particular, who has joined from Spanish side Seville, looks a signing to excite fans with his electric pace and ability to go past players, is likely to give Pellegrini and his City team a new dimension to their attacking options.
Pellegrini will also have been happy to see the departure of Carlos Tevez over the summer after the Argentinian joined Juventus. The 29 year old often proved to be more trouble than he was worth during his four years at Man City and the omission of his disruptive attitude from the dressing room can only work in the favour of the new manager. After six years of controversy in the Premier League, it will be interesting to see how Tevez fairs in Italy…
The new signings are clearly important to Pellegrini in ensuring that he makes his mark on the team from the off but perhaps his biggest task will be to get the best out of the squad of players he inherits.
The likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero all struggled to reach their potential last season, having been integral to the side’s Premier League title winning campaign in twelve months earlier.
If Pellegrini can bring out the best form of the aforementioned players, who form the nucleus of the team, City will be well on the road to improving on last year’s efforts and closer to regaining the title and the new boss will surely be well on his way to being considered a success.
As far as opinions are concerned, the bookies cannot split Man City, Man Utd or Chelsea, with the trio vying for favouritism, with all three around the same odds of 9/4 to be crowned Premier League Champions come next May.
As well as the Premier League, Manchester City will be targeting a good run in the Champions League this season as they look to reach the knock-out stages for the first time.
Pellegrini will be only too aware that previous manager, Roberto Mancini’s, failure of City to progress beyond the group stage of the competition in the past two seasons ultimately cost the Italian his job and the 59 year old will be eager to avoid the same fate.
The draw for the Champions League group stage, which takes place on August 29th, will be crucial to the chances of City with their low seeding likely to ensure they meet at least one of the so-called ‘European Giants.’ However, the strength of their squad is arguably on a par with most of the top seeded teams and under Pellegrini, who guided underdogs, Malaga, to the quarter finals of last season’s Champions League, and a repeat of that effort will surely be a minimum expectation of the new manager and fans alike.
On initial appearances, Manuel Pellegrini looks like the perfect man to lead Manchester City into the new season. Chelsea are sure to up their game under Mourinho, while United will surely be at the head of affairs throughout under David Moyes, ensuring that it could be one of the most competitive season for some time.
It is City though who appear to have taken the steps to improve the most over the summer with a number of exciting new faces joining a squad which already boasts plenty of title winning experience. That combination, coupled with the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini, could well signal the start of something special at the Etihad Stadium, starting with another Premier League title in 2014.