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What now for City?

With silverware looking unlikely, we take a look at the challenges facing City in the coming season.

The man to rebuild?
The man to rebuild?
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Sergio Aguero's goal in 2012 proved that it's never over until the the last whistle of the season blows, but the defeat to Liverpool on Sunday may well prove to be the end of City's title challenge this year. Chelsea sit five points ahead with a game in hand and the only forlorn consolation City will have is that four of Chelsea's opponents in the run-in are currently in the top six, whereas City face only two from the heady few. It's definitely not impossible but it would take a catastrophic derailment from Mourinho's side for City to have any hope of retaining the title for the first time.

The Champions League doesn't offer much more hope for a trophy. Going into the Camp Nou a goal down and looking at the minute very much the whipping boys it would be a huge upset for City to progress past Barcelona. You never know in football but the smart money sees City going empty handed this season.

So if this season is to end trophyless then what next?

A problem that has become apparent in this title defence is that City's team is tired, an aging shadow of the giant that stomped its way to victory last season. Pellegrini presides over the oldest squad of any major club in Europe with an average age of 29.6, and another year added on to those legs may have been the difference this season. Yaya is 31 and bossing it at times, but when he's not there City look impotent in attack and less assured all round. The first choice back four of Kompany, Demichelis, Zabaletta and Clichy has an average age of 30.25 years and at 26 years of age new addition Wilfried Bony is the youngest member of our strike force.

So Pellegrini, or maybe his successor, faces into next season with a squad in need of an overhaul.

UEFA's financial fair play sanctions have hampered City's efforts this year and may have forced Pellegrini's hand on transfers but with the transfer restrictions gone by the start of next season City will be expected to take a plunge into the transfer market this summer. There are areas all over the pitch that need strengthening and Pellegrini should be under no illusions as to the size of his task. Buy too few and there is not enough cover, buy too many and the squad can become imbalanced.

The #pellegriniout brigade will combust if he keeps his job into next season. In his time in La Liga Pellegrini never had to oversee the rebuilding of a multi-million pound squad and so Sheikh Mansour and his team are left with a decision. Start afresh with a manager who has a track record for this particular situation or place faith in the Chilean and hope that his acumen in the market is enough to bring City back to their roaring best. The next year is a big one for City, lets hope the right decisions are made by the right people.

The idea of "teams in transition" has become part of the footballing zeitgeist. Man United and Liverpool are two of the most prominent examples with United struggling to match the standards set during Ferguson's reign while Liverpool desperately try to fill a Suarez shaped hole. For both clubs a return to the glory days of league domination seems unlikely to happen soon. Without careful management over the next couple of transfer windows City could easily see themselves slip into the bracket of "team in transition", perpetually on the coat tails of the league leaders.