Manchester City: 10 Bold Predictions for City Next Season
As the season winds down, Manchester City are currently involved in a heated title race, with the climax sure to come in the Manchester derby on April 30.
Regardless of whether Roberto Mancini’s men will be taking home the Premier League trophy in May, this season has been a baptism of fire for the City players, who will be sure to build on their experiences at the top level of English and European football.
So what will happen next season?
Here are 10 bold predictions for Manchester City’s 2012-2013 Premier League season—and, as usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
Tevez to Start the Season with City
But will it be that straightforward?
Given Tevez’s wage demands and City’s transfer fee demands, only a few clubs around the world have the finances to afford him, and even then, the famously picky Tevez might not choose to move to Russia or the Middle East.
So, when the Premier League season starts again in August, don’t be surprised to see Tevez still sporting the City No. 32 shirt.
Modric to Sign
Last summer, Luka Modric’s head was turned by Chelsea’s interest.
Now the Modric-to-City rumors are doing their rounds (this from the Guardian).
If Tottenham fail to secure Champions League football next term, Modric might be tempted to sign for a team constantly challenging at the top, just like Arsenal’s Samir Nasri once was.
The financial rewards on offer will make Eastlands that much more appealing.
Luka Modric might start the season wearing a light blue shirt.
Defence to Be Significantly Strengthened
City might boast the best defensive record in the league so far (with four games left to play), but Robert Mancini’s defence has been found wanting on occasions this season.
While Vincent Kompany is without a doubt one of the world’s best central defenders and Joleon Lescott has come on in leaps and bounds this season, City’s central defensive ranks lack a quality backup—the inexperienced Stefan Savic has made some costly mistakes.
With Aleksandar Kolarov rumored to be on his way out (he's linked with Internazionale in this Mirror article), City also lack cover in the left-back position, the out-of-favor Wayne Bridge notwithstanding.
All of which makes a significant investment in defence a strong possibility this summer.
A Host of Squad Players to Leave
Here’s a list of first-team-level players who are permanently contracted to Manchester City but are out on loan at other clubs:
Here’s a list of squad players whose uncertain first-team status would generate significant interest:
Pablo Zabaleta, James Milner, Edin Dzeko, Adam Johnson, Aleksandar Kolarov, Owen Hargreaves, Kolo Toure.
If City continue to invest in player recruitment this summer, Mancini will be obligated to let go of some of his squad players.
So we might be seeing a quite different Manchester City squad by September.
Balotelli to Stay for One More Year
Mario Balotelli has courted extensive controversy during his time with Manchester City, but for all of his frustrating and infuriating acts on and off the pitch, he remains a fiercely talented striker.
Roberto Mancini clearly prefers to see his good side, which explains his patience towards this rough diamond time and again this season.
Which means Balotelli will be given another season to prove that he can mature into the world-class striker that his potential suggests he can be.
Aguero to Be Top Scorer in the League
Sergio Aguero currently only needs three more goals to exceed Fernando Torres’ record of most goals scored in a debut season in the Premier League by a foreign player.
Which means he could conceivably end the season as the new record holder.
A relatively barren spell of form in the past couple of months has meant that he hasn’t sustained his scintillating early-season goalscoring displays over the course of 10 months.
But he will have fully adapted to the English game this season.
Which means he could very well win the Golden Boot come May 2013.
Exit the Champions League at the Quarterfinals
While City’s debut campaign in the Champions League ended in an ignominious exit from the Europa League, perhaps the major obstacle towards making the knockout rounds at the first time of asking was being drawn into the toughest group stage group on paper.
With more Europe-savvy players to be added in the close season and many lessons learned from this season’s experience, City might face a kinder draw next season and make it through to the knockout rounds.
But this would still be a City team in progress, so expect the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid to be a step too far for now.
An exit at the quarterfinals looks likely.
Mancini to Leave by the End of the Season
While Mancini still retains the faith of City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners, next season might be a completely different story.
The manner of City’s fall from the top—especially if they don’t claw back first place from Manchester United by the end of this season—has been alarming, just as their Europa League exit was listless.
A poor showing in the domestic cups next season, with an uncertain grip over first or second place in the league as well as an exit from the Champions League, might spell the end of the Mancini era.
If they manage then to entice the likes of Jose Mourinho, City would go from strength to strength and prove their longevity at the top of the tree.
No League Cup or FA Cup Success
As the Premier League and the Champions League have taken center stage at City, domestic competitions (i.e., the League Cup and the FA Cup) may very well have assumed third and fourth place in the pecking order of silverware.
The domestic cups have become a sort of breeding ground for young players and a way for squad players to get some much-needed match practice in recent seasons, especially for top clubs challenging on all four fronts, and they might get the same treatment from a City side looking to establish a Light Blue dynasty.
As a result, expect City to finish the season without either trophy.
Win the Title, but Only Just
Five points are all that separate Manchester City from winning the Premier League for now.
Over the course of next season, City will once again go through peaks and troughs in their form, but the caliber of players added will add more match-winning options at Mancini’s—and his possible successor’s—disposal.
Regardless of whether Mancini will leave City during midseason or after the season has ended, City will finally achieve their long-standing goal of winning the Premier League.
But only just.
If you liked this article, you might also be interested in my picks for this year’s Team of the Year. Please also check out my writer’s profile, where you can find more of my work, and my blog, The Red Armchair, for Liverpool match reactions and opinions.