This article was written by Ollie Gee. Follow him on Instagram (@g_ollie02) and Twitter (@olliegee02).
Along with other top European managers, 2016-17 was Pep Guardiola's debut season in England, in charge of Manchester City. I think it's fair to say it didn't go exactly how the modern Man City wanted, with Guardiola finishing with no trophies for the first time in his coveted career. Anyone who knows of Pep Guardiola will know he won't be happy and will want to make up for last season's lack of silverware. And I think Manchester City can do so this season...and more. Do what only City's cross-city rivals United have ever done - the treble.
Coming into the 2017 summer period, I believe it was important Manchester City knew what went wrong the season before and how to fix it. The defence, to be blunt. At times last season, a defence that were Champions League semi-finalists at the end of 2016 defended more like a German second league team playing against a full strength Bayern Munich whereas they were actually struggling to hold onto a lead at home to Middlesbrough. So this summer, behind the scenes, City set to work on sorting out defensive issues by shipping off all their full-backs and breaking English transfer records and defender transfer records to get new ones as last season Manchester City were playing with full-backs from Arsenal's 'Invincibles' side from about a decade ago. So, out went Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov, and in come Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. Flexible, attacking-minded but also defensively strong full-backs, and young compared to Zaba - as much of a City legend as he is!
One step back from that is City's goalkeeping position - a hot topic as far as last season's concerned! You could say Chilean Claudio Bravo was questionable in net, but then look at his penalty performance in the Confederations Cup Final this summer! Bravo got a lot of stick and to be fair it didn't help him having a very flimsy line of protection in front of him. Maybe if Claudio Bravo was playing this season, it would be a different story, but Pep chose to buy Portuguese Ederson who is a brilliant distributer of the ball like Bravo but also a great shot stopper.
With the hopefully permanent re-introduction of Vincent Kompany into City's defence, alongside ball-playing apprentice John Stones and hard-faced cropper Nicolas Otamendi, Manchester City could have a very well-balanced defence capable of winning titles!
Another important part of a footballing side is the messenger - the defensive/central midfielder, whose job when going forward is to carry the ball to the attackers. Let me just say now, Manchester City's main man in this position - Fernandinho - is very underrated. On the pitch over 90 minutes, I don't think I've seen many more players as willing or eagar to have an impact as Fernandinho. If you were describing someone who wants to get stuck in, this man would fit perfectly! Fernandinho is a player who offers the passing precision of a typical Brazilian midfielder, excellent strength and aggressiveness for a small man and an occasional edge-of-the-box screamer! Now rotate Fernandinho with the experience of Yaya and the fresh energy of Ilkay Gündogan, and again, I think City have got another part of the pitch that could be definitely be part of a successful side!
Now take Europe's top teams - Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus... And look at their attacking strength. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Neymar Jr, Paolo Dybala etc. To beat the best, you have to match them and I think that's exactly what Pep Guardiola's done when it comes to Manchester City's attack. Next season City will be scoring goals for fun with a full season of Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus up front. In any team Agüero all but guarantees you 15 goals a season, and we've already seen flashes of what Jesus is capable of. But you may argue goals have got to be assisted. No problem, Kevin De Bruyne was the Premier League's top assister last season and we all know how good David Silva is at providing perfect balls to finish off. And with the addition of one of Monaco's best attacking players, in Bernardo Silva, Manchester City now have the depth needed to win the Champions League. On the wings, the sheer youth, pace and quality of Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling is able to beat and embaress any defender before whipping in a cross to be knocked in, providing City with another line of creativity...again depth is what's needed if you're talking about winning three major trophies in one season.
So, what's stopping Manchester City?! Premier League rivals Chelsea looked very good last season, but is their squad as good as City's and with no European football last season I predict they'll find it hard this season with having to play every midweek for about 6 weeks! The goes same for Liverpool and as well their defence was bad as City's last season, yet have they gone through the same improvement stages this summer?! Tottenham Hotspur are also good but ask yourself why would Kyle Walker move to City if he thought Spurs had a treble-winning team in the making?! Also, Spurs have been a Europa League team season after season (and still haven't won it!) so it remains to be seen how they will fair stepping up to the Champions League this time around. As for Arsenal, I think as long as Arsene Wenger's in charge and their best players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil are unsettled, they won't be much of a threat
So, now Manchester United are the remaining team from England's top six and I think they are to be a bit more wary of - they could even make this season similar to the title race of the 2011-12 season! However, honestly, I'd take Agüero or Jesus over Lukaku and I'd take Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva over Pogba. Then again, I may be slightly biased...but all I'm saying is don't put it past Manchester City to win the treble this season!
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