Roberto Mancini’s men struggled over the Premier League finishing line, but, when Mike Dean blew his final whistle, none of that mattered.
Sergio Aguero’s goal showed that money can be used to assemble an award winning squad, but winning the title is priceless.
Next season Manchester City will be looking to build on their success from 2011/12, and they will undoubtedly go into the new season as the hot favourites to win the Premier League title.
From Kompany’s leadership to their attacking firepower, and from Mancini’s tactical know how to Sheikh Mansour’s money, the Citizens have a plethora of invaluable assets that helped them win the Premier League- and those same ingredients will ensure that they successfully defend it.
This slideshow will assess the ten most important reasons why no one can stop Manchester City defending their Premier League crown.
“If I was still playing today and had to choose a defensive partner from those players, then you would go through the list of qualities to see which had all the attributes. You want pace, positional sense, strength in the air and ability on the deck and Kompany excels in all those departments.” - Alan Hansen writing for the Guardian.
Despite Robin van Persie’s exceptional season, Vincent Kompany should have won the Professional Footballer’s Association and Football Writer’s Player of the Year award.
The 26-year-old club captain has been a beacon of calmness in the Manchester City back four, none of whom had tasted league success in the past.
His leadership qualities are immense. When City was on the fast track towards failure, it was Kompany who came to rescue. It was his header that won the decisive derby against Manchester United.
His four-game suspension in early 2012 revealed his importance to the team in startling clarity. Despite Lescott’s natural talent, he struggled to lead the back four and provide support for Stefan Savic.
Kompany has all of the necessary attributes to become the greatest defender of the Premier League era. His positional awareness is impeccable, strength in the air unquestionable and tackling ability first class. On top of all that, he is a great communicator and rich in all the necessary physical attributes.
City fans will find it all the more reassuring to know that, at the age of 26, his best years are still ahead of him. The only thing that can hinder the captain is injury.
It is ironic that Manchester City's best piece of transfer business in the past 10 years was conducted before Roberto Mancini and Sheikh Mansour's millions arrived at Eastlands.
It is a tool that is all too often used as a criticism against Manchester City, but, money is integral to success.
Montpellier’s league triumph may stand as an intriguing counter example, but just look at the biggest clubs in Europe. Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Juventus and even Barcelona have invested huge amounts of money in their squads, which is, undoubtedly, a corner stone to each of their success stories.
Manchester City are no different in this respect.
Such rumours must be viewed as evidence of Manchester City’s potential prowess in the transfer mark.
The problem is, the club’s owners may not be prepared to inject more money into the club.
In January, Roberto Mancini was informed that he had to move on some of the club’s dead wood before acquiring new talent. At the time, CNN reported the former Inter Milan boss saying: "It's better that we sell first. Maybe then we can then take in other players.”
The result was David Pizzaro arriving on loan, and nothing more.
With Roque Santa Cruz, Emanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge, Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson on the club’s wage bill, City may still find themselves in the same position.
Did you know that Roberto Mancini is only the second foreign coach in Manchester City’s history?
With three Scudettos, four Coppa Italias, an FA Cup and Premier League title in his trophy cabinet, Roberto Mancini has become one of the leading managers in world football.
A club with City’s ambitions needs a big-name manager to control a squad of egotistic players--just look at what happened to Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea.
When defending a title, it is essential that a winning formula is not tampered with too much. Given that Mancini was the architect to Manchester City’s success, removing him would remove an integral component of the Citizen’s championship-winning set up.
Mancini has shown himself to be a tactically astute manager who is capable of responding to constructive criticism. In the 2010/ 11 season, Man City were too defence-orientated. They had more clean sheets than any team in the league, but they were the lowest scoring team to finish in the top four.
A more attacking formula was needed.
The following season, City scored 33 more goals while conceding four less than their previous season’s tally at the same time. Such a successful turnaround is due to the change in Mancini’s approach to Manchester City’s games.
Earlier this week, Roberto Mancini signed a five-year contract extension with the club. Such a long contract should ensure consistency to a club that has seen six managers in the past decade.
The backroom staff at the Etihad is amongst the best in the Premier League.
Assistant manager Brian Kidd has a wealth of experience, and was integral to helping Sir Alex Ferguson transform Manchester United into a title winning team. He was the youth team coach at Old Trafford for a team that included Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes. Between 1991 and 1998, he served as Fergie’s right-hand man, and we all know what the club achieved in that time.
First team coach David Platt is amongst the most successful Englishman to play the game. Although he does not have a wealth of coaching experience, he won major competitions in two different domestic set ups, and he had a stellar international career. He is a man who has achieved more than most of the players in the squad, and that kind of experience can only have a positive effect.
Fausto Salsano and Massimo Battara, first team coach and goalkeeping coach, respectively, were both key features in Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan team. As a trio, they have a solid working relationship with one another, and such understanding is pivotal in forming a management team. The proof is in the pudding.
In short, Manchester City’s backroom staff are a team of winners. Their knowledge and experience has already had an impact on the team’s performance, and, as the club’s transformation into the best in the world continues, they will be there to keep the player’s feet grounded.
Manchester United were not good enough to win the Premier League title last season; they need more quality in the heart of their midfield and more understanding between their goalkeeper and back four.
So far, Shinji Kagawa is the only major addition to Sir Alex’s squad. The 23-year-old Japan international will go some way towards bridging a gap between the midfield and attack, and his goal-scoring record should ease the burden that rests upon Wayne Rooney while Danny Welbeck continues to develop.
However, the Red Devils remain particularly weak at right back; surely, Fergie is not planning to go another season with Chris Smalling or Phil Jones occupying the position? Both England youngsters have proven their worth in the centre, and are uneasy out wide.
Their best striker is gone, and his £50 million replacement is still shaking off a run of poor form that spans the best part of three seasons.
What’s more is, Roberto Di Matteo, an inexperienced manager, will be caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to developing the Blues’ youth talent alongside the team’s new signings.
It is not impossible for Eden Hazard to flop at Stamford Bridge, and the development of Kevin de Bruyne and Josh McEachran are by no means guarantees.
With that in mind, questions have to be asked of Chelsea’s midfield. Does Frank Lampard still have the legs? Is Raul Meireles good enough? Who is going to play a holding role?
There are so many variables going into Chelsea’s season that counting them as title favourites is unwise. Although it is not impossible for Di Matteo’s men to come good, they are not in the same league as Manchester City--on paper, at least.
For the past two seasons, Manchester City's defence has conceded fewer goals than any other team in the league, allowing only 62 goals in 86 games: a formidable record.
In Joe Hart, the Citizens have one of the best young goalkeepers in world football.In Vincent Kompany, they have one of the finest captains.
Micah Richards is arguably the best right back in the Premier League, with Zabaleta used as an able deputy. Aleksandr Kolarov and Gael Clichy on the left are both well-seasoned and dependable professionals.
Lescott was, perhaps, the best English defender in the league last season, and Kompany has shown himself to be a world-class performer. The only weakness lies in the their depth: Kolo Toure is aging, and Stefan Savic has shown little sign of shaking off his nerves.
Rumours have linked Manchester City with a plethora of centre backs, including Fabricio Coloccini, Martin Skrtel, Thiago Silva and Daniel Agger. Although none of these players has yet signed for the blue side of Manchester, the speculation suggests that City are actively trying to strengthen this one weakness.
Yaya Toure, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry, Nigel De Jong, James Milner and Adam Johnson: is there a finer midfield in the Premier League?
Most of the midfield has played alongside each other for two whole seasons, and an understanding between the players that was not there in Mancini’s first season was fast becoming evident towards the end of the season.
What’s more is that the bounty of talent offers the manager a variety of different options. With Samir Nasri and Adam Johnson, City have width at their disposal, should they chose to use it.
David Silva’s presence just outside of the penalty box was particularly troublesome in the first half of City’s campaign, and a solid performance at the Euros suggests that he has finally shaken off the ankle injury that plagued him mid-season.
Yaya Toure is not just a powerhouse, but also one of the most versatile midfielders in the league. He is equally adapt playing deep or crusading through the midfield as a playmaker.
Finally, in Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong, Mancini has two experienced professionals who are fully capable of breaking up attacks, holding onto possession and distributing the ball to more advanced players with minimal fuss.
On paper, Manchester City has the most ferocious strike force in European football.
The world-class talents of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli would improve any Champions League team, including Real Madrid and Barcelona.
What’s more is that they complement each other superbly. Aguero and Tevez are both superb at bridging a gap between midfield and offense, while Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko are capable finishers.
Although Dzeko’s Manchester City form has not lived up to his Bundesliga statistics, his value to the team his obvious. More than anything he offers height, and his heading prowess was invaluable against QPR in the final game of the season.
What’s more is that, in John Guidetti, Manchester City have one of the most promising young strikers in Europe. The 20-year-old Swede scored 20 goals in 23 appearances for Feyenoord last season.
Winning a first title is always the hardest part of creating a prolonged period of success.
For a team with Manchester City’s former stature, it is even harder.
Not since 1968 had the Citizens won the highest league in English football, and such unfamiliarity with winning was evident throughout the season.
Despite amassing a huge lead and considerable goal difference advantage over Manchester United in January, City’s season completed a full U-turn in March. Come April, they were hot outsiders, and United’s defeat to Wigan gifted City a second chance to create history.
They responded in sensational style.
With less than a minute to go in extra time of the final game of the season, Sergio Aguero scored a goal that will live long in Premier League history.
Now that the monkey is off their back, City players know both that they are good enough to win the title and the importance of maintaining form throughout the season.
The mistakes made in 2011/12 were the product of inexperience. This City team is no longer inexperienced.