“What a silly title,” you’re probably thinking to yourself. Of course there’s joy and happiness at Manchester City. After all, the team only needs to avoid defeat to West Ham on Championship Sunday in order to clinch the Premier League title. Manuel Pellegrini has already won a trophy in his first season in charge, with City lifting the League Cup after defeating Sunderland.
(READ MORE: PREVIEWING CITY’S CLASH WITH WEST HAM)
Sure, they got knocked out of the FA Cup by Wigan. And they failed to make it past the Round of 16 in the Champions League. But still, Manchester City are about to pick up their second league title in three years. A bigger story to report would be if they were sad and depressed.
Turns out that this level of happiness wasn’t a given under Roberto Mancini. While David Silva, who joined City in the summer of 2010, doesn’t explicitly state that the squad was unhappy under their former manager, he rather implies it by talking up the changes he sees at the club:
He’s brought a joy and a happiness around the place and also to our style of play. You see that in the way we play: attack-minded, [with] lots of goals. He’s made us competitive in every competition. We’ve gone further in them. He’s given us that extra push and taken us one step further.
The neutrals can certainly have no complaints. This City side have scored 100 goals in 37 Premier League matches. Compare that to the 66 scored in 38 last season, or the miserly 60 in Mancini’s first season in charge. By the end of his time in Manchester, Mancini was revealed as a manager held in place by his innate conservatism – particularly considering the attacking talent available to him.
Not so with Pellegrini. Yaya Touré, who we might remind you is technically a midfielder, has 20 goals, while Sergio Agüero has 17 in 22 games. The side attacks with fluidity and still manages to have the second-best defensive record in the league. The team is happy – and we’re sure having fun watching them.
Both Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany have nothing to worry about regarding their place in the Manchester City squad, according to manager Pep Guardiola.
Neither was in the starting lineup for the Champions League loss to Barcelona, with Kompany not even in the 18. But according to Guardiola, he had his reasons for both.
“Vincent was not perfectly fit,” Guardiola said. “Sergio, I said after the game, was a tactical decision. If Sergio decides to leave it will be his decision.”
The former Barcelona manager played a striker-less formation against the La Liga giants, employing Kevin De Bruyne as a false 9. It failed, with Barcelona storming through en route to a 4-0 win, with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick.
Kompany has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, missing all of this season so far, half of last year, a healthy portion of the previous campaign with various injuries from hamstring problems to calf tweaks to groin pulls. According to Guardiola, it has left a permanent mark on the Belgian defender’s psyche.
“One day, in the training session, he said: ‘I didn’t feel like this [good],’” Guardiola said. “In that moment, when his head is not ready and with what happened in the last two years, it is better to stay out. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure about how many games we want him to play or set big, big targets. So it’s just try to train good and after a week of training no injuries, we’ll play a game, and after that another one. And after that we’ll see.”
Hamburg may have made a coaching change, but that didn’t change their immediate fortunes.
Bobby Wood and company fell to fellow USMNTer Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt 3-0 at Volksparkstadion. It was a rough home opener for new Hamburg manager Markus Gisdol, as former Fulham and Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby opened the scoring with an unfortunate own-goal after an ugly giveaway.
Things got worse as Dennis Diekmeier picked up his second yellow card shortly after halftime, and it was gravy from there for Frankfurt as Shani Tarashaj and Haris Seferovic bagged goals to secure the win.
Hamburg, a club that narrowly staved off relegation in a playoff last season, has just a measly two points through eight matches. They fired manager Bruno Labbadia after just a month, but it hasn’t gone much better for Gisdol as a road draw with Borussia Monchengladbach is the only salvageable result through three thus far.
Bobby Wood’s honeymoon start to the league season for Hamburg is long gone. He scored two goals in two games to start the year, but hasn’t hit the back of the net since.
Timmy Chandler, on the other hand, he’s played the full 90 minutes in every game for Frankfurt since the opener, assisting a goal in the 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich last weekend. He’s helped Frankfurt move to fourth in the league, three points behind Bayern and Koln and Red Bull Leipzig between them (what?!).
With Manchester United set to visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the Special One will be returning to his former stomping grounds, a place where he spent six tumultuous seasons spread across two separate reigns.
While Jose Mourinho insisted he has “no hard feelings” for his former club and the way things ended, but did not mince words the subject of his former boss came up.
While Mourinho insisted he has “respect” for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, telling Sky Sports, “We were never friends. We were never close to each other. So he is just a person that I keep very respected.”
Mourinho also said that, even if The Blues wanted to, “They couldn’t delete me from Chelsea history. They belong to my history too. No bad feelings,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. The owner, he decided to sack me…the fans, they have no power. They show day by day, match after match, that they wanted me, but in this profile of club, the fans have no power. In some clubs, especially in some Latin countries, the format of the club, the fans have real power on the board and with the president and owners, but here they have no power so Mr Abramovich decided to sack me, but I left with not one bad word about anyone or anybody at the club.”
The 53-year-old said the titles he won at Chelsea were proof that “I did my job.” He finished by saying that no matter the treatment from fans, he will always hold Chelsea as he does all his other stops. “From me, you are not going to have, ever, a bad word about any one of my previous clubs,” Mourinho said. “I keep always a very good feeling. It doesn’t matter what is going to happen. But, it is my nature. It is my job. It is my new club. On Sunday I will go there to try and do my job.”
In the midst of building a new youth academy, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has laid out his ideal setup for training youth players to be stars for the German giants.
Rummenigge told fans that his club would seek out youngsters to develop, but his strategy differs from the method of recruitment used in England. Heavily.
“We don’t want to bring some 10- or 11-year-old to Munich like the English do,” Rummenigge wrote in the club’s magazine. “You could almost consider it kidnapping and I would have moral reservations about that. I believe 14 is a good age for a youngster to come to Bayern.”
The Bavarians have produced some world-class talent in recent years, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller, and current captain Phillip Lahm. However, the club has also become known for poaching top talent across the Bundesliga as well, most recently having snatched Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund and rising young star Josh Kimmich from Stuttgart. This has led to a period of dominance, but at the expense of parity in the Bundesliga title race.
The new academy, located just down the road from Allianz Arena, is expected to be completed next summer.
Rummenigge continued to take shots at English clubs, next targeting the amount of players they train, saying, “Imagine this: Chelsea currently have 41 promising players out on loan, including Andreas Christensen at Borussia Monchengladbach. I know that Manchester City can train up to 250 players at their facility, together with their parents. It’s virtually like a real-life village. But we want to be more cautious. We don’t want a football factory.”
In recent months, a number of top La Liga clubs have been hit with transfer bans for breaking FIFA rules regarding youth transfers, but it seems something has found its way under Rummenigge’s skin with regards to the behavior of English clubs.