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With Chelsea failing to kick on from their last season’s laurels, tipsters mooted Manchester City as the title favourites heading into the current season; however, sitting 15 points behind table toppers Leicester City, even their hopes of playing Champions League football next season look bleak.
Though they can seek solace in their League Cup success, their league campaign so far has been horrendous, and they can hardly make amends with only 24 points left to compete for.
Homegrown quota and untimely injuries
Forced to meet the homegrown quota, Manuel Pellegrini brought down native talents such as Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph in exchange for a combined fee of about £57 million. The hyped up English talents have unsurprisingly underperformed largely – or have been exposed – even settling for a place on the bench.
Besides these compelled signings, the Chilean gaffer also secured the services of Kevin de Bruyne, who, upon his arrival, looked the ideal player to steer his side to the league title. However, the only lively spark in the otherwise disorganized team sustained an untimely injury to his anterior cruciate ligament in late January, leaving the balance of the team in balance.
Injuries to Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero did not help either.
Guardiola’s announcement and backfiring
With the club already struggling to find the rhythm and consistency, the board reckoned it was the perfect time to announce the arrival of fabled coach Pep Guardiola. What looked an attempt to paper the cracks has hugely backfired as the Blues have since been averaging just one point per game as opposed to their average of 1.91 prior to the announcement, winning only against whipping boys Sunderland and Aston Villa.
Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes subtly stated that the board should have delayed the announcement, which apparently has now taken a psychological toll on their performance. “I don’t think the news itself is a surprise, maybe the timing of the announcement. It is very interesting,” said the Stoke City manager.
The effect of the mid-season announcement has been sometimes been rubbished, most recently by Rob Pollard of Manchester Evening News, and the tactical stubbornness and the aging squad are pointed fingers at for their miseries.
However, Pellegrini’s men sit just three spots off relegation based on the results since the announcement, and the abysmal record speaks for itself.
Missed opportunity and inevitable success
The City of Manchester Stadium club have transformed into a hugely successful club in the wake of Sheikh Mansour’s takeover and in light of his sensible management, winning the Premier League title twice and finishing runners-up twice in seven seasons.
Guardiola’s arrival and eventual successes will not only further solidify their dominance in Manchester and England but also in Europe, where they have had little luck.
However, by the looks of things, the arrival of the most-coveted manager may coincide with the League Cup winners missing out on Champions League football in seven seasons, with West Ham United and Manchester United sniffing around.
Etihad Stadium faithful will hope what should be the commencement of a revolution under the Spanish manager should not get off to a poor start with the club featuring in the Europa League.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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