BFTGT: What would have to happen this season for you to class this as a successful one?
Danny Pugsley: This has been the most asked question of me for the various previews this summer. Having done what City have the past couple of seasons there is a platform for continued success. By that, of course we mean lifting trophies so to go without a trophy would be classed as a disappointment. The hope will be for a better showing in the Champions League but the big prize will be to try and retain the title. Success breeds success, but it also breeds expectation so this will be an added pressure for the squad to cope with.
Doron Salomon: I guess wining back the league although and it’s harder to measure against, I’d be pretty happy to see us play good football with some of the younger players firmly integrated into the first team. I’d like to see United win the FA Cup, it’s a competition we really underperform in; whilst in Europe, things can’t go worse than last year!
BFTGT: How do you feel about your club’s business in the transfer window this summer?
DS: So far I’m happy. Kagawa already looks like smart business and Nick Powell, although a bit of an unknown, has settled in well and looks confident when he’s played. I wanted to see another player brought in, ideally a central midfielder, but RVP will suffice!
DP: Lack of you mean? Far too much has been placed on the lack of activity I think. Mancini’s comments make for good headlines but the market is not huge and City are no longer in the position to have to throw money around to quickly catch up. They also have the added problem of being burdened with some of the contracts from the early days which are hampering them due to FFP. Rodwell is an interesting signing. There doesn’t feel an obvious ‘fit’ at the moment but the fee is not huge and he will have a couple of seasons to emerge. If he then goes on to be a dominant player for a decade then it will be a great signing. I suspect it will be 3-5 years before we can really assess the signing.
BFTGT: Who do you think will be your most important player this season?
DS: Vidic. Impossible to put into words just how much we missed him last year. Not only is he a fabulous player but he’s a leader on the pitch. United need some balls, for some reason they got too soft last year and his return should certainly add some much needed toughness.
DP: City have a spine of Hart, Kompany, Yaya Toure, Silva and Aguero which I think are unmatched. Silva is the obvious choice (and one I long went for) but Yaya Toure continues to impress more and more and was such a key figure over the final games in 2011/12. I wouldn’t rule out Tevez having as successful a season as 2010/11 however. If Mancini does field a 3-5-2 (or loose variant of) this will fit him perfectly.
BFTGT: How do you rate your manager’s ability to take your club forward?
DP: It’s easy to dismiss what Mancini has achieved given the prayers and money at his disposal but last season proved quite how tough the league is to win. To maintain form when United were so relentless and to then bring the team earned him plenty of credit. He can be quite an emotional character at times (witness the incidents with Tevez and Balotelli) but he has fostered a strong spirit and identity with the squad, despite the common outside view of them being a disparate bunch of mercenaries. I’ve always thought though that he may ultimately be judged by his ability to win a Chanpions League. His record at Inter was underwhelming and he needs to improve on last season. The title win will have bought him some time however.
DS: Who am I to question Fergie as a manager? I’m certainly vocal when I think he’s made errors but I’d want no one else in charge of the club. His record speaks for itself, simply put, no one else can repeatedly rebuild squads like he can.
BFTGT: Who do you think will win the league this season?
DP: City have been installed as slight favourites and I think that is about right. Chelsea and Arsenal will improve but let’s not forget how big a distance they were behind last season. Tottenham I’d expect to post a similar season while Liverpool will improve; even a slight improvement in them converting chances will increase their points total. United will be challenging again as there is plenty of talent still within the squad plus there will be the motivation of how last season ended. Don’t forget that historically United price very adept at winning titles back once they have lost them.
DS: Hmm, I think City will still be favourites. They’re the champions now and the team to beat. I presume their business for the summer won’t end with Rodwell so I expect them to further strengthen. I get the feeling a few fans will underestimate United and I hope we can do it but I fancy City to do it and be pushed all the way again.
Doron Salomon is a Manchester United fan who writes for Stretford-End.com. Follow @DoronSalomon on Twitter. Danny Pugsley is a Manchester City fan who owns Bitter and Blue. Follow @DannyPugsley on Twitter.