What a difference a few weeks can make. Written off by many before the first ball had been kicked, Manchester City have made three firm statements of intent in their quest for another English league title.
Raheem Sterling was statement one. The young talented winger/forward came to City from Liverpool for all of £49 million and that in itself looked to be enough for a title challenge. Still, they looked to be just short in defense and central midfield. Queue the first game and after a thumping win over West Brom the doubters, all of us, seemed to be quieted.
Even in defense they looked solid. Mangala remembered what positioning was and his partner Kompany remembered that he was once maybe the best central defender around.
The core steps up
That is one very telling observation. The old guard have all looked reenergised and motivated after an off year for most last year. Silva was right at the top of his game, leading many to wonder why they ever thought he wasn’t the best player not named Agüero in England. Kompany picked up where he left off in 2013-14 and most pleasing to City fans, Yaya was back picking his goals out of the net and rushing to celebrate. Yaya in particular does tend to dominate against opposition such as this and fade against more mighty centres but this being a one off was again dispelled the next week.
City put champions Chelsea in their place last week after a masterclass by their two geniuses, Silva and Agüero. Silva was silky smooth, penning his very own sonnet and mesmerising the rest. Agüero gave a lesson in how to be a forward, masterfully using space as he does at his best, and using his bursts of pace and distinctly South American skill to leave Gary Cahill sliding into oblivion. Then there was Sterling constantly being a nagging menace on the left side, linking up with those two. Chelsea simply had no retort.
Now, City have adding bacon to the butter by making another splash on the transfer market. This time they have gone for goal scoring Argentine defender Nicolás Otamendi. That in itself is also a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Two goal scoring centre backs, Yaya Toure, and that starting front four is not a nice thought to ponder facing. Now they can conceivably rotate between among centre backs if they so choose. That weakness now looks to be a strength. City definitely had the best starting eleven then.
The signing that will ultimately propel them to finally being a serious Champions league force is the final one. Chelsea reject and one of the best creative forces in the world, the Belgian Kevin De Bruyne, is just about a City player. The money was too much to resist and the rest of England must be shuddering at the thought of Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne and Agüero lining up against them. What City has now is a goal factory and anything less than 25 goals from Agüero would be very surprising if he stays fit.
City must now look beyond even the league. That should be the bare minimum. There are still concerns as to whether that midfield can cut it in Europe but it might not matter. Silva, De Bruyne, and Sterling all can come deeper to supplement and lend support. Possession might not be an issue. Otamendi is also a godsend.
City must look to push on. Manchester United now look like the noisy neighbours. They should conquer the city, conquer the country, and look to conquer Europe. Placing first in the group stages should be priority one and then the sky should be the limit. There is no reason for City to look at themselves as anything other than serious contenders. The transfer market has brought transformation. Jose Mourinho said his rivals were buying the title. City have spent and made their intent patently clear regardless of whether you believe his jabs. While United continue to miss out on targets they were never interested in, still somehow managing to eke out marrow wins, City is going out and showing that they run Manchester city….or do they? Let’s see if best on paper translates to reality.