After winning the title on the final day of the season, Manuel Pellegrini’s men embarked on the new season determined to make a successful defence of the Premier League. The blues allowed several players to leave, notably Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, while Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair, Alvaro Negredo and John Guidetti went out on loan.
New arrivals included Bacary Sagna from Arsenal, Fernando from Porto, Willy Caballero from Pellegrini’s old club Malaga and Frank Lampard from Chelsea. Lampard had in fact signed for sister club New York City FC, but joined the blues prior to the MLS season starting, but ended up staying the full season.
The blues began the campaign by playing Arsenal at Wembley in the Community Shield. The blues found themselves 2-0 down by half time and conceded a third midway through the second half as The Gunners triumphed 3-0. It was a statement from Arsenal as they dispatched the champions with ease, and City fans would have been forgiven for thinking a repeat of two seasons ago was already on the cards.
The first league game of the season saw the blues face Newcastle for the second successive season. This time, the match was at St James’s Park and the blues continued their excellent record against the Toon. David Silva scored ten minutes before the break and Sergio Aguero added the second in injury time to secure a 2-0 opening day victory for the blues.
The first match of the season saw the champions play the runners up as Liverpool arrived. City showed some champion form as two goals from Stevan Jovetic and on from Aguero gave City a 3-1 win. The last game in August saw Stoke visit the Etihad Stadium, and three points should have been a formality. But City being City beat Liverpool one week, then lose the next as a goal for the visitors, thirteen minutes after the break, handed City their first home defeat of the season. The result ended City’s 100% start to the season and left them three points behind leaders Chelsea in the early league table.
The international break followed, meaning the blues didn’t play again until almost two weeks later at Arsenal. This time, the blues went in 1-0 up at the break thanks to Aguero, but soon found themselves 2-1 down. Martin Demichelis cam to City’s rescue with an equaliser seven minutes from time. City then travelled to Germany and another Champions League tie with Bayern Munich. Despite having four players booked, City looked like holding Bayern to a goalless draw until former blue Jerome Boateng scored in the 90th minute.
City scraped a point against Chelsea when Frank Lampard scored his first City goal to equalise against his former club, before a home League Cup tie saw the blues at home to Sheffield Wednesday. 0-0 at half time and the pundits were talking about a potential shock result, but that talk was ended two minutes into the second half. Lampard scored for the second successive game and the floodgates opened. Dzeko, Navas and Toure all scored before the 60 minute mark, before Dzeko grabbed his second, Jose Angel Pozo scored his first goal for City and Lampard rounded off the scoring in the final minute to secure a 7-0 win and passage to the next round.
An away game at Hull was next on the agenda. The blues were 2-0 up after ten minutes through Aguero and Dzeko, but Hull were level by the 31st minute. Dzeko gave the bleus the lead and Lampard scored again to give the points to the blues with a 4-2 victory. It was a vital win for City, which kept them five points behind leaders Chelsea in the race for the title. The final game of September was a Champions League tie at home to Roma. Aguero scored a fourth minute penalty but Francesco Totti rolled back the years to find a brilliant equaliser as the blues were held 1-1.
October began with a trip to Villa Park, where the blues had to wait until the 82nd minute when Yaya Toure put City in front, and Aguero made it 2-0 six minutes later. Spurs arrived two weeks later, which saw the blues win a bizarre game 4-2. Aguero gave City a 13th minute lead, which lasted just 90 seconds as Spurs levelled. Aguero then gave City the lead from the penalty spot on 20 minutes, and had a chance for a hat-trick just after the half hour mark. Silva was tripped in the box and Aguero stepped up but his spot-kick was saved by the keeper.
In the second half, Spurs were awarded a penalty that was saved by Joe Hart to keep the score at 2-1. City went straight down the other end and Spurs defender Fazio pulled back Aguero in the area. The blues had a penalty and Fazio went for an early bath as Aguero made it 3-1 from the spot. The Aguero show continued in the 75th minute as he beat the keep to score his and City’s fourth of the match to keep the pressure on Chelsea.
The blues threw away a two goal lead at CSKA Moscow to draw 2-2, and then suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat at West Ham. 1-0 down at half time, the blues conceded again with 15 minutes remaining. David Silva pulled a goal back two minutes later, but the blues couldn’t find an equaliser. Another surprise was to come in the League Cup as Newcastle visited. The holders found themselves a goal down after six minutes and the Toon made it 2-0 with 15 minutes left to send the blues crashing out.
November started with an unconvincing derby win over United. The Reds had Chris Smalling sent off in the first half and Aguero scored the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute. City tasted defeat again in the Champions League as CSKA Moscow won 2-1, leaving City’s hopes of qualification in serious jeopardy. The blues needed Aguero at Loftus Road as two goals from the Argentine rescued a point for City as the blues fell further behind Chelsea and were even overtaken by Southampton.
The blues had to come from behind at home to Swansea, with Jovetic and Toure getting on the score sheet, before a crucial Champions League tie at home to Bayern Munich. The Germans had Benatia sent off as he conceded a penalty which Aguero tucked away. But by half time, the blues were 2-1 down and facing elimination from the competition. With five minutes remaining, a mistake in the Bayern defence allowed Aguero to run through and equalise, before the Argentine striker scored a brilliant solo winner in injury time to keep their qualification hopes alive.
City finished November by beating Southampton 3-0 at St Mary’s. Toure scored 6 minutes into the second half, and two goals in the last ten minutes secured the points. The blues replaced Southampton in second place, but were still six points behind the unbeaten leaders.
December began with a 4-1 win at Sunderland. Aguero bagging another brace, with goals from Jovetic and Zabaleta completing the win. A first half Yaya Toure penalty gave the blues a 1-0 home win over Everton before City travelled to Roma for their winner-takes-all tie. After a goalless first half, Samir Nasri gave City the lead after 60 minutes. The blues looked good for their lead and Zabaleta secured City’s passage into the last 16 by making it 2-0. City continued their winning run with a 1-0 win at Leicester, Frank Lampard scoring the only goal five minutes before half time, then beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at The Etihad, David Silva scoring two and Toure adding a late third.
On Boxing Day, the blues raced into a three goal lead at West Brom, but conceded three minutes from time to win 3-1. The final game of the year saw the blues throw away a two goal lead at home to Burnley. Silva and Fernandinho had put City 2-0 up, but conceded a late equaliser. The winning run, together with a dip in form for Chelsea saw the blues close the gap to just three points.
The first match of 2015 saw Sunderland visit Manchester and again, the blues threw away a two goal lead. Toure and Jovetic had put the blues in control, but then allowed the Black Cats back into the game. Fortunately for City, Lampard was on hand to score the third and take the points for the blues.
Sheffield Wednesday arrived in the FA Cup and were beaten 2-1, before a 1-1 draw at Everton closed the gap to just two points. Arsenal were next up and walked away with a 2-0 win and Middlesbrough did exactly the same to dump the blues out of the FA Cup by the same scoreline. January’s final game was a trip to Stamford Bridge and what some were describing as a title decider. The bleus were five points behind the leaders by this stage and conceded four minutes before the break. Thankfully, the teams went in level at half time thanks to Silva’s equaliser and the ‘title decider’ finished 1-1.
February started with a dismal 1-1 draw at home to Hull. The visitors took the lead ten minutes before half time and it was left to James Milner to equalise two minutes into injury time to rescue a point. A 4-1 win at Stoke avenged City’s early season loss and was followed by thumping Newcastle 5-0 at the Etihad. The blues were once again five points behind Chelsea.
In the Champions League, City were once again paired with Barcelona. The first leg at the Etihad saw Luis Suarez score twice in the first half to give Barca a two goal lead. Gael Clichy became the obligatory sending off against the Catalan side, before Aguero pulled on back on 69 minutes. City couldn’t muster an equaliser and took a 2-1 defeat to the Nou camp.
The blues then lost their usual match at Anfield 2-1, then beat Leicester 2-0 at the Etihad. A shock 1-0 defeat at Burnley kept the blues at five points behind the leaders and wasn’t the ideal preparation for the second leg tie at Barcelona. The blues lost 1-0 and again exited the Champions League at the last sixteen stage. March ended with a 3-0 win over West Brom. The visitors were reduced to ten men after just two minutes and Bony, Fernando and Silva scored to give the blues a much needed victory.
It was short lived moment of joy as the blues started April with two defeats. First, Crystal Palace recorded a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park, then the worst happened as the bleus lost 4-2 at Old Trafford. Sergio Aguero had given City an 8th minute lead, but went in at the break 2-1 down. Further goals for the home side followed and Aguero scored a consolation with a minute remaining. The bleak run left City 12 points behind the leaders with six games remaining. And worse, the blue shad dropped to fourth behind Arsenal and United.
The blues got back on track with a 2-0 home win over West Ham and April ended with a 3-2 win over Aston Villa. Once again, City failed to hold a two goal lead, but Fernandinho scored the winner in the final minute.
May began with a 1-0 win at Spurs, thanks to Aguero’s 29th minute goal. Relegation threatened QPR arrived at the Etihad and were dispatched 6-0, with Aguero bagging another City hat-trick. The blues visited Swansea in their final away game and once again threw away a two goal lead. Toure and Milner put City in control, but conceded just before half time. The Swans levelled after 61 minutes, but Toure scored again with 16 minutes remaining, before former Swan Wilfried Bony sealed the win. Southampton visited the Etihad for the final game of the season, and Frank Lampard signed off with a final goal for the blues. Aguero made it 2-0 with two minutes remaining to secure a second place finish for the blues.
City ended the season eight points behind champions Chelsea, dumped out of both domestic competitions at home and beaten 3-1 by Barcelona. The blues needed to perform the following season, particularly in the Champions League or the fans, and the hierarchy, would start getting restless.