MANCHESTER City’s Manuel Pellegrini is one of a few managers who will start the new English Premier League season this weekend under enormous pressure to do well.
The Etihad boss finished the last campaign empty-handed and with the record signing of £49mil Raheem Sterling (pic) and Fabian Delph, the club’s hierarchy have made it clear that silverware is to be won this term.
The Chilean manager himself has been rather tight-lipped in the lead-up to the start of the 2015/16 season. But that is not to say he is not confident.
On the contrary, the Citizens have every reason to be optimistic going into the new Premiership campaign and an equally exciting European Champions League excursion, although the latter may prove a little too far just yet.
All the same, when Man City hit the road for their first league outing, a visit to West Bromwich Albion on Monday night, they will be bent on kicking-off with a victory and all three points.
Pellegrini’s squad, barring the two new additions and the departure Edin Dzeko, is by and large the same one that stumbled from pillar to post last season, yet also won a second league title in three years the season before that.
The club’s approach is that of continuity and stability within its ranks. It is certainly not a bad idea to go with, unlike two of the other top teams.
The likes of prolific Argentine striker Sergio Aguero and midfield dynamos Spaniard David Silva, Ivorian Yaya Toure and Brazilian Fernandinho will be trusted with delivering the drive to go forward, and relentlessly attack.
In defence another Argentine, Martin Demichelis, and a hopeful return to fitness and form by Belgian skipper Vincent Kompany, will be called upon to hold the fort at the back, with England goalkeeper Joe Hart, one of the stars of the Premiership last season, serving as the last line of the rearguard.
But much scrutiny will be made of Sterling, who left Liverpool to set a new record in the fee paid for an English player. The 20-year-old, who got two goals in the pre-season warm-up games, looks a sure fit for the Etihad side.
His pace down the right and the ability to cut into the centre, and score goals, has been well-documented and with that Pellegrini will be hoping it gives him another option from the front-six.
Should Frenchman Paul Pogba move to the Etihad before the beginning of next month, as some have hinted, then the City boss will be probably have no excuse should he fail in his bid to bring more silverware to the blue half of Manchester.
My guess is he will win at least two trophies this season – the league and maybe one of the domestic cups. Of course, the Champions League title would really be a massive bonus. But for now though, it’s all about facing West Brom in the league opener on Monday and relieving some of that pressure.
Shaun’s Top Four Picks:
1 Man City