Manuel Pellegrini set to kick off new era at Manchester City
By Aaron Leggott
After just over two months into his new post as Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini will be itching to finally see his new look side take their place on the Etihad turf to kick off their Premier League campaign on Monday night.
With changes in senior management at Chelsea and Manchester United as well, Pellegrini has kept himself away from the spotlight, helping the Blues get about their transfer business with minimal fuss.
Fernandinho, Jesús Navas, Álvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetić have all made the moves to the Etihad Stadium to play for one of Europe's biggest clubs, and Pellegrini has strengthened well in potentially weak areas.
|Photo: Official MCFC Facebook|
And whilst rivals have stuttered in the transfer market, City got their business done early and with that they have got a settled squad seemingly capable of challenging on all fronts.
The first team hoping to put an early dent in City's title ambitions will be Newcastle United, and the Magpies head to the North West as a polar opposite.
Making only one signing - Loïc Rémy on loan from QPR - Alan Pardew seems more worried about the influence in the boardroom, rather than events on the pitch.
The introduction of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football raised many an eyebrow throughout English football, with some suggesting it as a cost effective way of replacing Pardew if results falter.
However, Pardew has repeatedly backed his new colleague, backing the ex-Newcastle boss to deliver some quality signings before the end of the transfer window.
Rémy won't be making his debut against City thanks to a calf problem which could keep him out for another month, whilst Jonas Gutierrez could be in contention to start after shaking off his hamstring injury.
Pellegrini will have Sergio Agüero available for selection after the Argentinian has recovered from the knee injury which kept him out for most of pre-season, but Monday's game comes too early for Matija Nastasic, who is expected to return to training after shaking off an ankle injury quicker than expected.
Below are highlights from the previous meeting between the two sides, which saw City come out winners in a 4-0 win:
|"We have employed a manager capable of delivering trophies"|
Photo: Official MCFC Facebook
Like everyone else, I'm extremely excited at the prospect that this new season holds for City. It's been a long summer and competitive football is finally back!
At first I was extremely pessimistic at the prospect of Manuel Pellegrini coming to City - paying particular attention to his trophy record in Europe.
However, the Chilean has grown on me and after some research about the 59 year old, I feel we have employed a manager capable of delivering trophies, as well as improving upon our Champions League record.
The work he did at Villarreal and Malaga was commendable considering the sizes of both clubs as well as the circumstances surrounding both when he was in charge. I won't go much into how he plays, but has promised attractive football in all competitions.
In terms of pre-season, I'm very happy with how we've prepared ourselves. I think everyone will agree that Roberto Mancini's preparation for last season was far from adequate - and whether it was his fault or not, it was one of the major factors for us conceding the title to United so cheaply.
But after recruiting four top class footballers, I feel the team put in some good performances, particularly against Bayern Munich and AC Milan (in the first half).
Newcastle will come to the Etihad with extremely slim hopes of heading back to the North East off the mark and you get the feeling that Alan Pardew will set up his side in the aim of preventing City for as long as possible, whilst attempting to hit the Blues on the counter attack.
I've been quite shocked that they haven't recruited many players during the summer break. Rémy is a good signing if he can link up well with Papiss Cissé, but they seem to have a heavily reliance upon Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye in the midfield.
Whether this works out, we'll have to wait and see, but I predict City to get off to a good start and send a message to our rivals.
Prediction: City 3 - 0 Newcastle