Manchester City shows early promise in bid to retain Premier League title
Early days in the 2014/15 season it may be, but the signs for Manchester City are nonetheless positive.
August 27th, 2014
Despite a truncated and disjointed pre-season due to the involvement of a number of players in the World Cup – that meant some players had no meaningful minutes ahead of the opening day win against Newcastle – Manuel Pellegrini will be pleased at how his City side have opened up.
Two games, two wins and ample evidence that this is a City side whose key traits that have seen them land two Premier League titles in the past three seasons remain intact. Results are important of course, however early in the season it may be, but it is accepted that teams will not begin to remotely hit their stride for a good month or so. The immediate signs though are that this City side are set to defend their Premier League title with more gumption and spirit than they did back in 2012/13.
It is interesting to note that side started the season well before a home defeat in the Derby against Manchester United derailed them and sent them into tailspin, accusations and recriminations being the overriding mood for the remainder of the season as an average United side cantered to a title win and ushered Roberto Mancini out of the door.
And the change at the helm will play a huge part in City’s ability to mount a title charge. In the wake of the victory away to Newcastle, a game that City did not excel in but did enough in to kick off their season with three points, Pellegrini spoke of the ethos he has sought to drill into his squad: that of being ‘hungry and humble’.
Simple tenets they may be but ones that were missing back in 2012/13. Rewind two years and City were coming off the back of the emotional title win where they didn’t just steal their first Premier League title on the final day, but the final minute of the season. All at their great rivals’ expense too.
Into the next season then and City failed to shake off their hangover. A feeling of having done their job permeated their play, allowing them to drop their guard and not maintain the requisite level of intensity required over the course of the season. Added to this was the distraction of the increasingly fractured relationship between squad and manager, and it was little wonder that a driven Sir Alex Ferguson, in his final season at the helm, dragged and cajoled his United team to the title as City floundered.
Not this time it appears, much down to the influence of Pellegrini. Hungry and humble may be simple words, even throwaway ones in an era of soundbites but it sums up the approach City need perfectly. Humble in the sense that there is a need – despite your success – to remain grounded and hungry to be able to move on to the next challenge; satisfied in what you have achieved but to never relax. This was something that Sir Alex Ferguson played on and used to such great effect over the past couple of decades.
There has been an impressive composure about City’s play to date in these early couple of weeks of the 2014/15 season. Far too early of course to judge or draw any long term conclusions about the outcome of the season but there are signs – and it should be cautioned that they are just that – that under Pellegrini the right mentality has been instilled within the squad, which can only bode well for City as they aim to do what is rarely achieved of late and defend the Premier League title.