The Bitter and Blue contributors held a (virtual) roundtable over the past week to discuss and dissect City's hopes for the forthcoming Premier League season.
It will run as a series of five, one for each day upto the weekend when City kick off at Newcastle. First up, "What are your thoughts on City's pre-season?"
Suffering Bruin: Me likey a great a deal! Jovetic looks fantastic, the team looks happy, the kits look good... honestly, I'm having the devil's own time trying to figure out what is not to like. Special note should be made about the young ones; City takes an unending and unendurable amount of grief for not developing young players but I saw five guys who could make Premier League rosters right now and the 17-year old wunderkind Iheanacho was one of those guys.
Kmoney2405: It's hard to get excited or down about how a preseason goes. In terms of health, this was an excellent preseason. Jovetic managed to stay healthy (knocks frantically on wood) and looked like the player City wanted when we signed him last year. The emergence of the young stars, Iheanacho and Zuccilini, speaks volume of the academies that the City group had spoken about and, more importantly, the future of City.
Harkiano: The Community Shield result - if that is indeed classified as a pre-season fixture - has put a bit of a dampener on things but by and large the team appeared to be ticking over quite nicely. The most notable positive has been the form of Stevan Jovetic who genuinely appears fit and raring to go for perhaps the first time in his City career.
The new faces appear to have settled quickly and a number of squad players all got some game time on the American tour. Pre-season and the start of the campaign was always likely to be disjointed with the World Cup participants arriving late and as the defeat against Arsenal has demonstrated, it is important that the key players are back playing as soon as possible!
Sonics097: I usually don't look into the preseason games too much. This year especially, given the fragmented arrivals of players coming back from Brazil. For me the most important thing is for the players to get their fitness back up and for discipline to settle back in. While that largely remains to be seen since a lot of players still haven't played yet, it was refreshing to see some youngsters get playing time.
Preseason is important for them and the fringe players fighting for a place in the squad. But, I don't think much has changed on that front given the squad size restrictions City have this year with an already overflowing squad. Additionally, it might have been the last chance for guys like Richards, Sinclair, and Guidetti to impress (or even wear the shirt).
Zac MacPhee: I thought it was quite good up until the Community Shield. Jovetic has looked a star (and stayed healthy) and Zuculini has also impressed. Kolarov has changed his number to that of a left-winger; a fact I've taken great joy from. Pellegrini's also tinkered tactically, experimenting with a 4-3-3 that might serve the team well come the European challenges. Then came Sunday morning, and with it, a performance that was startlingly sluggish. I don't care much about the result, but the way it came about might be cause for concern.
A J Howard: My most important feeling about City's preseason is the gratitude that it's finally over, with the Community Shield's final whistle mercifully restoring meaning to City's games. Though the results were largely negative, I'm not sure there is an overarching, team-wide theme to take from the tour, especially when the oddity of preseason in a World Cup year is considered.
Had the entire team been together for the whole summer, the verdict might be a little more harsh, but it's pointless to dwell on the mostly average showing in the ICC or the 3-0 defeat in the Community Shield. The biggest lasting issue for the team will be Negredo's foot injury against Hearts, which will keep the striker out of action for an extended period of time. One could also point to the defense's struggle to find consistency, especially against Arsenal, as a major negative, but such issues are to be expected with both Kompany and Zabaleta absent. Micah Richards and Matija Nastasic certainly did not help their respective cases for more playing time in defense, though.
On an individual scale, there were some positive takeaways from the preseason, mainly in anticipation for the finally healthy Stevan Jovetic and the endless potential of 17-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho--wherever he ends up playing his football in the near future. Arriving from Porto, Fernando also fit in immediately in midfield and appears to be a crucial addition for tactical flexibility, particularly in the Champions League.