It's been a summer of positivity at Manchester City. They've been basking in the glory of their title win in May, tying up their best players on long-term contracts and once again securing their transfer targets swiftly and effectively. Txiki Begiristain, the club's director of football, deserves huge credit for his role in the direction the club is taking.
The stability the new contracts for their best players brings cannot be underestimated. David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany are all on five-year deals, and Yaya Toure has three years remaining. The club's core of world-class players are committed for the long term.
Prospective players will see that as an attractive proposition. The very best want to know they are signing for a stable club whose best players are settled and happy. City, from the outside looking in, appear to be one of the most serene clubs in English football.
It's a far cry from the summer of discontent that followed the club's last title win in 2012. Then, transfer targets were missed and a row broke out between former manager Roberto Mancini and the club's director of football, Brian Marwood. It was unsettling and self-defeating. It shouldn't have been a surprise when City weakly surrendered the title, finishing 11 points behind rivals Manchester United.
It seems unlikely there will be a repeat this season with the club having added quality to its already impressive squad.
And Manuel Pellegrini has been presented with a perfect opportunity to increase the feel-good factor at the Etihad on Monday with a home game against Liverpool. What better way to lay a marker down to the rest of the league than by beating a title rival so early in the season.
Liverpool will provide a formidable challenge. They have added depth to their squad after the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, with the improvement to their defence, although not yet complete, vital after defensive problems ruined their title challenge last season.
They pushed City close, with Pellegrini's men only overhauling them in the final furlong, and revenge, in part, can be exacted on Monday evening.
Indeed, the City boss knows the importance of matches against his side's rivals for the Premier League. In his Carrington press conference earlier in the week, he told the gathered press:
It is important for us as we are just starting the season and maybe we don’t have our whole squad in the best fitness moment, but I think this week we work very hard and very well, so I hope we can do a very good game and win the three points.
City have been hit hard by this summer's World Cup. The pre-season for many of their players was truncated due to their involvement deep into the competition. However, at Newcastle in the first game of the season, their squad depth already came to the fore. City brought on Fernandinho and Aguero—two of the league's best players—at St James' Park to ensure three points. Pellegrini will be hoping it's a theme which continues throughout the season.
Eliaquim Mangala is unlikely to play given his lack of match fitness, and Alvaro Negredo remains sidelined with a metatarsal injury, but otherwise the Chilean has a full squad to choose from. "Mangala is just starting working with us so I think that he needs more time to go with our squad. All the rest of the squad is fit except Negredo," Pellegrini said.
After a summer of off-field happiness at City, a win on Monday against a side likely to challenge for the title would be a further boost to their aspirations of silverware.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2014-15 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_
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