5 Things We Learned from Manchester City's Run to the Premier League Title
In one of the most exciting Premier League seasons to date, it was Manchester City who emerged champions, despite fierce competition from Liverpool and Chelsea early on. The club's consistency, firepower, talent and experience paid off, as the Blues lifted their second league title in three years.
Many will point to Manchester City's large war chest as the reason why, but it goes much further than that. With the hiring of Manuel Pellegrini, the club was able to calmly navigate the tumultuous waters of a stormy Premier League season with poise.
The signing of top players in the offseason, plenty of firepower up front and not neglecting defense made for a perfect storm. But what else can their league rivals learn from City's ultimate triumph?
Manuel Pellegrini Is a Top Manager
When Manuel Pellegrini arrived at Manchester City, many asked the question if this quiet, soft-spoken manager was the right choice to lead the "noisy neighbors" onward. With no European silverware to his name and only a short, albeit impressive stint at Malaga in the previous season, Pellegrini had his fair share of doubters.
He answered the critics with nothing more than a wry smile, in his own way, and lifted the Premier League trophy in his first season in charge at the Etihad. Pellegrini was able to combine a core of experienced Manchester City veterans, with new signings such as Fernandinho, Martin Demichelis and Alvaro Negredo to create depth at virtually all positions and deliver the Blues their second title in three years.
His quiet, composed style won the hearts of the players, who saw his style as fair and brave, unafraid of playing the beautiful game with the arsenal at his disposal.
Do Not Underestimate Defense
With all of the focus on the strikers throughout the season, goal tallies, magnificent solo-effort golazos and free-kicks, it was defense that won the day for Manchester City. Despite Liverpool's flair and free-spirited attack, had it been for a more consistent defense, they might not have drawn Crystal Palace 3-3 or lost a home match to Chelsea, both crucial mistakes that ended up costing the Reds the Premier League crown.
Even though Manchester City had plenty of firepower of their own, it was their consistency at the back, led by Vincent Kompany, that allowed them to concede only 37 goals this season, good enough to be the league's second-best defense and best goal differential (65) as opposed to Liverpool's (51) and Chelsea's (44).
Depth and Consistency Are King
When Manuel Pellegrini announced the signings of Fernandinho and Martin Demichelis in particular, many wondered if these players could live up to the quality not just of the club, but of the league. Fans wondered whether £34 million could have been spent in a better fashion, but Fernandinho proved to be one of the best summer buys, not just for City, but for any club in Europe.
Many laughed at Demichelis, but with Kompany out at times, the player only gained confidence and cemented his place as one of the real leaders in the squad, particularly down the stretch.
Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic were deemed to be a surplus and a far cry from Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. And yet the duo ended up scoring vital goals for the club, ensuring the best goal tally and ratio in the league along with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.
Pellegrini was able to integrate his new purchases seamlessly and incorporate them into the team when core players such as Yaya Toure needed a rest or leave because of injury. By creating a layered system, the Chilean manager ensured that his club was not at the mercy of injuries or unexpected player absences.
Top Players Yield Top Results
Even though Pellegrini's summer buys ended up being hits, it was also the core players within the squad who ensured the proper results for Manchester City. David Silva employed at the No. 10 role provided brilliant service to the forwards up front. Samir Nasri looked like a reinvented and reinvigorated version of himself. Yaya Toure continued his tradition of excellence in midfield, and Edin Dzeko did what he does best: score goals.
The critics will undoubtedly point to the money spent on wages and transfer sums. However, in an age of modern football, all of the top clubs are spending money in order to win. Manchester City spent money in a way that made them a side that could compete on numerous fronts. They spent wisely.
Reliable Strikers Win You Titles
When Manchester City signed Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic over the summer, many wondered whether Edin Dzeko still had a future at the club. Manuel Pellegrini quieted the rumors by insisting Dzeko was still a crucial part of his plans and would be one of the go-to strikers going forwards. He was right.
Even though it was Aguero who captured the spotlight for most of the season, as well as a "beastly" Alvaro Negredo early on, Edin Dzeko was the man to deliver City the title with his crucial stretch of goals in the final part of the campaign. Dzeko scored nine of his 16 Premier League goals down the stretch in the final 10 matches of the league season.
With Edin Dzeko's consistency, there is less pressure on injury-prone players such as Sergio Aguero or Stevan Jovetic. In addition, City were not at the mercy of their players' form, with Negredo stepping up when needed early on and each player delivering when available. Having a stable of top strikers allowed Manchester City to score crucial goals, as well as establish the best goal ratio in the league with 102 scored and a goal difference of 65.