There's been an air of serenity at the Etihad Stadium this January. While other clubs have been left flapping around, desperately chasing transfers they hope will give their squad a lift for the remainder of the season, Manchester City are in a position of strength, thanks largely to their swift summer spending spree.
City learned lessons from the disastrous summer the previous year. Brian Marwood and Roberto Mancini were overseeing their transfer activity then, and they struggled to land their targets. After a series of false dawns, an erratic last-minute trolley-dash ensued, and a slew of players arrived who have since failed to live up to expectation.
With the exception of Matija Nastasic, those players have either underwhelmed or outright failed. Maicon was shown the door inside 12 months after a series of ineffectual performances, with many, quite rightly, questioning the logic of signing a player in a position City were well-stocked.
Scott Sinclair has since moved on loan due to his inability to impose himself, and Jack Rodwell has struggled with injury. Javi Garcia is a player who continues to have first-team involvement, and he has improved hugely this term, but a serious lack of pace casts doubt over his suitability to English football.
It was a haphazard transfer window that saw City spend over £50 million yet add little quality to their title-winning squad.
Frustrated and fearing what was to come, Mancini decided to break ranks and criticise Marwood—a move that ultimately contributed to his downfall. A club that prides itself on keeping issues and problems in house was never going to view comments like that favourably.
And Mancini was wrong to pinpoint Marwood as the only problem, particularly where the failed attempt to sign Robin Van Persie was concerned (via The Guardian). Club officials tried to make a deal happen, but Van Persie wanted to play for Sir Alex Ferguson. It really was that simple.
This summer was completely different. No rifts. No drawn-out and ultimately unsuccessful transfers. Just an aggressive, effective transfer strategy that saw City land their targets quickly and without fuss.
Txiki Begiristain and Manuel Pellegrini worked collaboratively in drawing up a list if targets and set about landing them as swiftly as possible. Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic were all in place before the end of July, meaning Pellegrini had over a month to work with his full squad before the season started.
That collaborative approach is an interesting contrast to the situation at Spurs, where one strongly suspects technical director Franco Baldini was solely responsible for their summer splurge that saw them spend the Gareth Bale money on an assortment of players, many of whom have been underwhelming. A dictatorial director of football is doomed to failure.
City's excellent summer window means they aren't as desperate to sign players in January, notoriously a much more difficult month to land the best. City have scored 110 goals, retain an interest in four competitions and have players in form all over the pitch. That's not to say City don't have holes in their squad—they certainly do—but their excellent start and relative strength means they haven't had to panic-buy.
Not that a deal is out of the question, and Pellegrini's wry smile when questioned at his Carrington press conference earlier suggested something may well be in the offing, but there's no hint of desperation, which is a position every club wants to be in.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.
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