Manchester City Problems for Manuel Pellegrini to Fix This Season
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Manchester City may be one of the richest football clubs in the world but they also have a wealth of problems that need to be addressed.
From improving on the European stage to investing in youth development, the Citizens need to be revamped if they are going to challenge for honours next season and beyond.
Step forward new manager Manuel Pellegrini. Nicknamed “The Engineer,” the Chilean could be the right man to turn the side into a winning machine.
Over the next five slides, we look at some of the problems that Pellegrini needs to address at the Etihad and discuss possible solutions.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Goals Gone Missing
Sergio Aguero made 22 starts for Manchester City last season.
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In the 2011/12 season, Manchester City scored 93 goals. The following term they scored just 66.
A deficit of 27 goals between the two seasons is huge. But what happened?
Sergio Aguero suffered an injury-hit season, starting just 22 games and scoring 12 top-flight goals over the course of the campaign. This is in stark contrast to the 23 that he notched in 2011/12.
Yaya Toure was also absent through international duty at the African Cup of Nations. And, at the other end of the pitch, key man Vincent Kompany had to sit out 11 games over the course of the season.
Such a wealthy club should have been able to provide cover for injuries, suspensions and absentees. Mancini seemed unable to cope without his top players.
Had City managed to sign Robin van Persie in the transfer window, things would have been very different. Instead, they brought in Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia and Matija Nastasic.
The solution? Pellegrini has already acted quickly in the transfer market, bringing in top names like Jesus Navas from Sevilla, Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk and Alvaro Negredo, who looks poised to join from Sevilla as seen on the BBC Sport website. Stevan Jovetic is also rumoured to be on his way to the Etihad, according to this article from BBC Sport.
Image from The Times.
Discord seemed to be a regular theme at Manchester City during Mancini’s tenure as manager.
Images of the Italian engaged in a training ground bust-up with Mario Balotelli will live long in the memory.
Unity and togetherness seemed to be missing from the team. It’s intriguing to speculate how a raw talent like Balotelli may have shone under Pellegrini, who is known for his man-management skills.
Manchester City have drawn criticism and laughs for their wishes for a more "holistic approach" at the Etihad.
But if Pellegrini can help to implement this, and keep drama and in-fighting at bay, he has the talent in the squad and the boardroom backing to do big things.
With Carlos Tevez also departed for Juventus, it’s one less controversial figure to upset the balance.
Roque Santa Cruz—made four Premier League appearances in four years at Manchester City.
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In January it was announced that Manchester City had the biggest wage bill in the Premier League.
According to the Daily Mail, the annual bill was in excess of £200 million.
The club are said to be taking UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules seriously and have already offloaded some deadwood.
At the time of writing, the total value of departures stands at £38.2 million, as seen on Transfermarkt.
With players heading for the exit doors, City will be streamlined and they could give youngsters a greater opportunity to come through.
This will also free up funds for player acquisition in what’s remaining of the transfer window and further strengthening in January.
Micah Richards and Joe Hart—both came to City as teenagers.
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Take a look at the Manchester City squad in 2006/07 and it’s staggering to see how many home-grown players were in the side.
Local lads like Nedum Onuoha, Ishmael Miller and Michael Johnson all came through the ranks at City while Micah Richards, Nicky Weaver, Stephen Ireland, Daniel Sturridge, Joey Barton and Joe Hart all joined the club in their teens.
Richards and Hart remain, while the others have departed the club.
Often the hallmark of wealthy clubs—these days City’s way is to buy, rather than cultivate talent.
A healthy production of young players is something that, across town, Manchester United can boast of.
It’s also something that Pellegrini has already vowed to change: "I'm not only here to win trophies, I'm here to work with young players," he said on the BBC Sport website.
"I can't buy four or five players every year, we need to work with young players."
Performances in Europe
Manchester City failed to advance past the group stages of the Champions League last season.
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It’s fair to say that Manchester City’s performances in Europe have been largely underwhelming.
Last season’s exit in the group stage was a stark reminder that the club have a mountain to climb if they want to compete with Europe’s elite.
Yet to win a major trophy, Pellegrini has a solid reputation in Europe. In 2006 he took Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals and last season he guided Malaga to within a whisker of the semi-final, in the club’s first-ever foray into the competition.
Pellegrini has already targeted success in the Premier League and in Europe. In this article by Mark Ogden in the Telegraph, the 59-year-old said:
"We’re going to try to win it all. All my experience will be useful for me to arrive here in Manchester and win the Champions League, that is my target."