Man City fell short of expectations in 2012/13 and the era of Roberto Mancini was finished. A new manager was hired, one with European pedigree and a strong track record in Spanish football. Our new-ish Sporting Director, Txiki Begiristain, would be taking charge of his first Summer transfer window and his moves for fresh blood and significant upgrades was hotly anticipated.
Everything feels new. A new approach, new manager, new upper management. New players will be the next items through the door. Nearly every one of us fans had great ideas or fantastical wishes about which players Man City should bring in to improve a squad that fell badly short of the expected title challenge.
Fans and copy writers screeched in unison: Cavani! Bale! Isco! Isco was a close miss, and as much as I wanted Bale it was never likely to happen. Txiki and the club moved at their own speed and in a clear direction: team need.
There were certain areas of this Man City squad that needed strengthening with significant upgrades and this would be a departure from the summer window under Marwood where depth players were added and gambles were taken on players who were not good enough or fit enough.
This was my to do list:
- Width A top class wide player was required in order to vary Man City's attacking scheme.
- Pace This was a very urgent team need, and an injection of pace was required all over the pitch
- Striker Upgrade City's strikers failed to launch for various reasons, this had to be adressed via the market
- A Left Sided Attacking Player City tended to attack down the left side in quite a narrow fashion last term. Nasri drifted inside and it was left to Clichy to overstretch at times in order to provide width. This needs to be adressed.
- Buy Another Center Half A young-ish prospect would have been preferable, someone was needed to replace Toure, and Lescott long term.
- Sell A Striker The striker corps needed feshening, any incoming money would certainly help
- Clear Out The Deadwood From This Chart Any player to the left of Milner had question marks hanging over them.
- Width Job done. There may have been younger players with more potential on fans' wishlist, but Navas is a really nice addition. £14m, depending on who you believe, is not bad for a Spanish international who is direct and can dismantle people one-on-one. May only get 3 late peak years out of the player.
PaceJob Done, kind of. City needed a pace injection right throughout the team. Navas provides pace out wide, Fernandinho, although a relative unknown and maybe 2 years too old for that kind of money, provides real quickness in midfield. A forward with real quickness up front would give City the option of two seperate speedsters in Aguero and player X.
- Striker Upgrade We are still waiting. Negredo and, but most probably, or Jovetic may well yet arrive. My preference would be Jovetic, but Pellegrini and the management may well decide that having a two spearheads to rotate would be the best option. If so, expect Negredo to join Dzeko. Personally, I would buy a young forward.
- A left Sided Attacking Player City need a more balanced attack, and in order to do that may well require a left footed attacking midfielder/winger. Jovetic can play deeper and he did play left side at times this past season, but I don't believe he would be the preffered fit here. Maybe City wait on this one.
- Buy Another Center Half No news on this one as yet. Toure has departed, Lescott is likely in his last season at the club, City have 3 trusted cneter halves as we speak. Pellegrrini may well decide to wing it with Garcia/Richards/Boyata as options to fill in if needed. If injury strikes to Kompany we could look awfully light at center half.
Sell A StrikerThe consesus was that Dzeko would be first out of the door, but in his stead Tevez departed. The Argentine expressed a wish to leave, Begiristain had a history at Barcelona of clearing out 'problem' players and just like that Man City's most important player of the 'new era' was gone. He will be missed, but at 29 he will be somewhere close to terminal decline and the savings made on his wages and the transfer fee may approach £18m over the course of a year. It was good business.
- Clear Out The Deadwood Not finished yet. This could be a lengthy process but from the chart above we see K. Toure, Balotelli, Maicon and De Jong are no longer at the club. Tevez has been sold and in my preffered order, Kolarov, Sinclair, Garcia and Barry may also be offloaded.
Five players from twenty three have left the club from at this point last season and two more may yet follow. That is quite a turnover of the playing staff. Two new players, Navas and Fernandinho, have arrived and I would expect others to follow. The dirty work of turning over the playing staff and upgrading the team has begun, but it's not yet complete.
More incoming. More outgoing. More money. It's a decent start for the Begiristain/Pellegrini axis.