>At long last, the phoney war is over. Let’s get on with the real business.
The new Premier League season gets underway on Saturday and those expected to challenge for the title have completed their pre-season preparations, if not quite all of their transfer dealings.
Ahead of the big kick-off, here is a look at what Manchester City have done this preseason.
What’s gone right?
The smoothness with which Pep Guardiola has come in and gone about his business, especially in the transfer market. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager saw a City squad that needed revamping and has gone out and successfully signed the majority of his transfer targets. Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane are the latest to come in, adding to the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito to create a new-look City team for the season to come. And they look all the more exciting for it.
What needs work?
Of course, it will take some time for the City players to adapt to the style of play Guardiola wants them to play and there have been defeats to Bayern Munich and Arsenal in pre-season. The cancellation of their match with United in Beijing also gives the impression that they might be a match or two behind full sharpness, which is a concern with a Champions League play-off against Steaua Bucharest on the horizon. It remains to be seen whether Guardiola’s tiki-taka can be successful in the more physical environment of the English league but he’ll be optimistic it will be.
City have played three games – they lost 1-0 to Guardiola’s old side Bayern Munich, defeated Borussia Dortmund on penalties following a 1-1 draw out in Guangdong, China, and then lost 3-2 to Arsenal in Gothenburg on Sunday evening. But, as we well know, you can’t read too much into pre-season results and all that will count for little when they walk out to play Sunderland on Saturday.
Pretty much there. City have revamped and enhanced their squad with a handful of exciting signings. Leroy Sane, the speedy and tricky young German, has arrived from Schalke for £42m and has the talent to illuminate the Premier League. Gundogan, £21m from Borussia Dortmund, offers another option in midfield, while £27m Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus is certainly one for the future. Nolito, £14m from Celta Vigo, will hopefully weigh in with a few goals. The one remaining piece of the jigsaw is probably in defence, where City retain an interest in Everton’s John Stones, for whom they’ll have to pay £50m.
Sergio Aguero still looks sharp up front, finding the net against Dortmund and Arsenal, and City fans will hope for a repeat of the 29 goals he scored across all competitions last season. Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling also looked on good form in Gothenburg on Sunday.
July 20 – 0-1 v Bayern Munich
July 28 – 1-1 (City win on penalties) v Borussia Dortmund
August 7 – 2-3 v Arsenal