Big Start Vital for Manchester City vs. Newcastle United

Tim OscroftContributor IAugust 18, 2013

Manuel Pellegrini will know that his Manchester City side cannot afford any slip-ups when they face Newcastle United on Monday, but he should have three points under his belt by the end of the night.

The last two men to occupy the City hot seat have been ruthlessly dismissed for failing to either stay with trajectories or achieve targets, and the Chilean has a target of five trophies in five years to meet.

It's a goal he's accepted—"only five?" he mused in one of his few meetings with the press this summer, as Bleacher Report's Phil Keidel reported. 

However, the visit of Newcastle should hold few fears for Pellegrini and his side. History is against the Magpies as their record at the Etihad Stadium is poor—the Toon Army have yet to return along the M11 having seen their side win in nine visits since City left Maine Road. 

Of course how different sides have fared is irrelevant on one level, but given Newcastle's quiet summer in the transfer market, there may not be many changes to the side that were thumped 4—0 on their last visit in March. 

The lack of transfer activity, and the fall-out from the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football, have seen a lot of negative coverage for Newcastle.

It's a shame for manager Alan Pardew, who comes across well in the media and seemed to be on the verge of a pushing Newcastle to something better than a flirtation with the drop as last season panned out. 

City's home record in recent years in enviable, with United's win in last December's derby the Blues' first league defeat at home in two years. Last season ended on a bum note at the Etihad Stadium when Norwich came away with a 3-2 win, but put that down to the fall-out from the sacking of Roberto Mancini and players with their beach towels out. 

Teams of Newcastle's standing have been frequently steam-rollered by City at the Etihad of late, and with some exciting new signings like Jesus Navas waiting to announce themselves I expect this to be the case on Monday. 

Pellegrini has had a full preseason to work with his squad, and it will be fascinating to see which combination and formation he starts with. 

First impressions are vital, and the eyes of the world (and the club's demanding owners) will be on the new man in charge of team affairs. Expect him to pass his first test with flying colours, but stiffer challenges lie in wait.