Manchester City: 5 Reasons Why Sky Blues Should Be EPL Title Pick This Season
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Manchester City's defense of their 2011-2012 Premier League title left a lot to be desired.
After a nondescript start in the league—two unconvincing home wins, two sketchy road draws—City tried to find their stride at the game's highest level.
Entering Champions League play as champions of England, expectations for City in Europe were lofty.
From there, City managed three home draws against three road losses—i.e., the hallmark of the bad football team—en route to failing not only to qualify for the knockout stage but even for Europa League play.
Fittingly, the Sky Blues followed up their Champions League pratfall by beginning to relinquish the Premier League crown to Manchester United five days later.
After that loss, City trailed United by six points in the Premier League table.
City never seriously threatened to catch United after that.
By the time the Sky Blues had semi-intentionally given Wigan Athletic the FA Cup, now former manager Roberto Mancini's fate had been sealed and reports were that City were already in negotiations with Manuel Pellegrini to manage the team.
So this is the side that will win the Premier League this season?
You know something? I really think they will.
Manchester City's Transfer Haul Has Been Spectacular
Jessica Hromas/Getty Images
Manchester City made it known early and often that, after a moribund transfer period last summer, they would not make the same mistake twice.
Stevan Jovetic then cost City £25.8 million, per Chris Wheeler, Rik Sharma and Simon Jones of the Daily Mail.
Daily Mail scribe Wheeler recently wrote that City are not even done yet: "City have spent more than £90 million on new signings so far this summer and are still expected to go back into the transfer market for a centre-back."
City's rivals have time to answer, but thus far both Chelsea and Manchester United have been comparatively quiet this summer.
Last summer's transfer flop showed City that while you cannot win the league in the summer, you can lose it.
This summer has been so much better for the Sky Blues.
Where the Smart Money Is
Matt King/Getty Images
Ladbrokes have Chelsea as the current favorite to win the Premier League, at 11/5.
City and United are 9/4 and 5/2, respectively, to win the league. The other 17 teams in the league? Suffice it to say that the touts do not believe.
Ladbrokes thinks the next best team is Arsenal. Right now, though, you can get the Gunners at 11/1. Maybe people actually believe that Liverpool really is chewing on that £40 million Arsenal offer for Luis Suarez.
So there are really only three sides with a realistic opportunity to win the Premier League this season. All three of them have new managers.
Of the three, City have done the most (via their wild transfer activity) to improve their side.
Help from the Schedule
Victor Fraile/Getty Images
As Manchester United proved last season, sometimes a hot start can be extended far enough to carry a side to a championship.
For the first few months of last season, Robin van Persie seemed to be scoring every time United lined up, and United kept piling up points.
By the time United's momentum stalled, none of their pursuers had the finishing kick to catch them.
Manchester City have the potential to mimic United's fast start this August.
City's three league matches in August are home to Newcastle United, away to Cardiff City and home to Hull City. Newcastle finished 16th in the league last season; neither Cardiff City nor Hull City were even in the league last season.
Further, City get to host the first derby in late September, and will not face a side that finished better than 10th in the league last season on the road until going to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on October 27.
City are in prime position to rack up crucial points early in the season.
City Were Actually Pretty Good Last Season
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
No doubt, Manchester City's 2012-2013 season was disappointing for the club and their followers.
But plenty of other clubs' fans would look at Manchester City's 2012-13 campaign and see success.
Much of the negative attention on the Sky Blues came from their second consecutive aborted effort in Champions League play, which of course has little to do with a side's Premier League prospects.
Taking it into consideration for this purpose only, the fact that City failed to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League did not make them a bad side.
Second place in the Premier League and an FA Cup final would be a huge year for any number of clubs.
With a new manager, so many new stars and so many returning past champions (Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure come to mind) City have more than enough firepower in place to win the league.
Maybe even handily.
There Is No Tomorrow
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Manuel Pellegrini took over of a club whose outgoing boss won their first Premier League crown in 44 years, and whose management now expects a trophy every season from this day forward.
Pellegrini's predecessor at Manchester City, Roberto Mancini, progressively lost his cool when things started to go bad and Mancini ran out of answers.
Comparatively, Pellegrini seems to be just about impossible to unnerve.
Asked at his first press conference about whether the aforementioned mandate from the club's brass that City win five trophies in the next five years concerned him any, Pellegrini deadpanned: "Just five? No problem." (H/T David McDonnell, The Mirror).
You have to imagine, though, that Pellegrini's cool exterior masks his realization of the spot he is in the way a duck's placid progress on top of the water obscures how hard its legs are working below it.
Pellegrini and Manchester City should be favored to win the league because the recriminations if they fail promise to be far-reaching.
No one's job at City will be safe if the Sky Blues fail again in 2013-2014.