Manuel Pellegrini to change Man City’s style, how can “The Engineer” fix it?

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During his first official appearance as Manchester City’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini made his plans for the team crystal clear.

Manchester City fans should expect attractive soccer this season at the Etihad.

Pellegrini, 59, stated that one of the main reasons City brought him in from Malaga was to try and create an attractive playing style. With the experienced coach promising a more attacking outlook will prevail as City aim to succeed on both the domestic and European front.

“One of the reasons I am here is for the way we play. Man City fans will see a different way of playing than they have seen in other years. I’m sure we will play an attractive team. We will try to be an attractive team.”

And when asked about which title the Chilean was targeting this season, the EPL or the Champions League, a coy yet firm response came from Pellegrini.

Success on all fronts is expected. Nothing more. Nothing less.

We don’t prioritize one more than the other. Man City need to improve on how they’ve performed in the Champions League, while the Premier League is very important. Here in the Premier League we have Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham – five or six teams who are trying to win the league. The league is so important. We will try to repeat the win of the Premier League of a couple of seasons ago.

It is one thing to make these grand statements. But to deliver attractive soccer when under pressure to get instant success is not the easiest thing to do. That’s an understatement. The man know as “The Engineer” for his thoughtful and methodical approach to soccer tactics will have to have a long hard think about how he can alter City’s ultra-defensive tactics deployed in the 2012-13 season.

(MORE: Is Pellegrini the right man for Manchester City?)

But one thing for certain is that Pellegrini will have all the tools to succeed at his disposal. The players City possess should blow most Premier League teams out of the water by the end of the first half. But they lost that swagger and attacking panache last season. Roberto Mancini failed to trigger the attacking impetus that City had when they won the EPL title in the 2011-12 season.

Last season City scored just 66 goals, the joint-fifth best in the EPL. When they won the title two season ago, City scored an incredibly 93 goals. Somewhere along the line they lost almost 30 goals from their offense.

So Pellegrini is right to target that as the area to improve. City’s defense is fine. But with Carlos Tevez leaving for Juventus, the new attack minded approach will have to be implemented from wide areas. Spanish winger Jesus Navas looks a real threat, and after joining from Sevilla the tricky attacker will look to create and run past defenders from out wide. David Silva and Samir Nasri are also key, as City’s new mantra of attacking soccer will need to flow through these diminutive, yet supremely skillful, figures.

City will surely bring in a new striker, with only Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero currently on the books. Pellegrini spoke about potentially bringing in a new forward but the Chilean played his cards close to his chest.

“We have two strikers and we need another one. We need a very good squad. Next week we will see about different players (in the current squad). We will try to bring with the best players from all parts of the world.”

Scour the world for top talent Manuel… just make sure they can score goals.

Report: Man City bid for Mendy rejected

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According to a report by Sky Sports, Manchester City has seen a bid for Monaco full-back Benjamin Mendy rejected, and will have to significantly increase their offer for the transfer to be completed.

The report states that Manchester City bid $58 million for the 23-year-old French international, but Monaco values Mendy at the $65 million level Man City paid for Kyle Walker, a world record for a defender.

[ MORE: Barcelona president warns PSG over Neymar move ]

Monaco is in an advantageous position in this situation, with Manchester City desperate for full-backs and Monaco not obligated to sell. Mendy’s current contract with the defending Ligue 1 champions runs through the summer of 2021.

City has already purchased Walker, but with the departure of aging full-backs Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, and Bacary Sagna, the club is almost completely devoid at the position, with just Walker and Aleksandr Kolarov on the roster.

Mendy has shown blistering pace and great crossing ability, racking up 11 assists last season across all competitions, including four in seven Champions League appearances. His tackling numbers are also surprisingly competent for such a young defender, completing just about 50% of his attempted tackles during league play last season, and sporting a 64% completion rate in Champions League play.

MLS to add VAR replay in early August

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Less than a month from now, Major League Soccer will introduce Video Assistant Replay to its matches, the league confirmed Thursday.

VAR took its biggest jump forward yet when it was introduced at the 2017 Confederations Cup. Referees on the field were alerted by video assistants in a booth about questionable calls, and the on-field ref would then have the opportunity to review a decision themselves on a video screen.

The MLS press release read, “A fifth member of a game’s officiating crew, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), located in a booth at the stadium, will have access to all available broadcast angles and check all plays for potential clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents in four game-changing situations — goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.” The league confirmed August 5th would be the introduction of VAR.Major L

For VAR to be successfully implemented and affect the flow of game as little as possible, the system will have to be tightly monitored as to not be used to challenge 50/50 decisions or those too close to call. In addition, quick decisions will be paramount to the system to keep confusion at a minimum and continue play as quick as possible.

There were examples of both good and bad use of VAR during the Confederations Cup. Early in the tournament, Portugal saw a goal correctly wiped off against Mexico thanks to a blatant offside call, with the decision coming 53 seconds after the ball hit the back of the net. However, later in the tournament, Chile saw a goal by Claudio Vargas controversially erased when the system was used to overturn an incredibly close call.

MLS says its decision to use VAR comes after three years of research and testing. It’s somewhat surprising the system is being implemented in the middle of a campaign, with any possible kinks to work out despite the stretch run of the regular season.

Back in early July, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said there is “nothing standing in the way of VAR” use at the 2018 World Cup.

Africa Cup of Nations moving to summer

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The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations has been moved to the summer, neutralizing the effect of the tournament on domestic leagues, the CAF has announced.

In the past, players were forced to choose between club and country with the tournament taking place in January and February. Now, players will not have to choose, and will be able to play for their country without missing any critical club time. Last season, clubs like Liverpool struggled in the absence of key players like Sadio Mane while they left to play for their country.

With the change to playing in June and July, teams will need to manage the heat of a summer tournament in Africa, although it wouldn’t be as bad as one might expect. The 2019 tournament is set to be played in Cameroon, where average temperatures in June start at around 87 degrees and fall throughout the month, reaching closer to 80 degrees by the start of July. Cameroon hosted Morocco in their most recent AFCON qualifier 10 days ago in Yaoundé, and the high temperature for that day (June 10) was 78 degrees.

The CAF also confirmed that the tournament will expand from 16 teams to 24 teams, despite qualification for the tournament having already begun. To fill out the additional slots, the CAF has not announced how it will change qualifying, but it’s likely that 2nd place finishers in all 12 groups would make the field, rather than the top three 2nd place finishers that currently progress. In the current format, the host country automatically qualifies, but still participates in qualification. Cameroon is currently leading Group B after one match.

Eight additional teams could pose problems for Cameroon, who admitted on Wednesday that preparations were behind schedule for the 2019 tournament. “Despite security concerns, social and economic crises, the government and President Paul Biya are totally engaged to do everything for the Nations Cup to go ahead,” said Cameroon Sports Minister Ismael Bidoung.

Finally, the CAF release confirmed that the tournament will, in the future, stay on African soil with only African teams. That means there will be no tournaments held in foreign nations such as China, and non-African teams will not be invited. Both were possibilities the organization was considering.

Barcelona president warns PSG over FFP

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is warning Paris Saint-Germain that even if they try to sign Neymar, they would condemn themselves to UEFA sanctions.

With PSG heavily linked to the Brazilian superstar, rumors suggest the French club is hoping to activate Neymar’s monstrous release clause set at $258 million.

However, that could have serious consequences, warns Bartomeu. “These clauses are impossible to activate if you want to comply with Financial Fair Play,” the Barcelona president told the Associated Press. “If someone doesn’t want to comply, then of course it can be activated.”

The Spaniard assured fans that Neymar is a critical part of Barcelona’s success.

“He has a contract for the coming four years and, of course, we count on him,” Bartomeu said. “He’s part of our team. He’s part of this trident [with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez].”

The 25-year-old signed a five-year contract extension last October that runs through the summer of 2021. Club vice-president Jordi Mestre also said he was “200 per cent” sure Neymar would stay with Barcelona.