Will a stagnant summer cost Manchester City home and abroad this season?

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It’s been a busy summer in the transfer market around the top of the Premier League table.

Chelsea, hoping to fix their dire need at the striker position, splashed for Diego Costa while also splurging for Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas to replace the legendary Frank Lampard.

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Liverpool added eight players hoping to replace last year’s Player of the Season Luis Suarez.

Manchester United looks poised for a rebound under new manager Louis van Gaal after snatching up Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera and are still in play for a number of big name players look like good fits for the new boss’s rare formation.

Everton bagged Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee after years of relative penny-pinching for a top-quarter club.

Even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger bucked his reputation and splashed cash early in the transfer window by throwing heaps of money at Alexis Sanchez and Callum Chambers along with a few others.

But one team is sorely missing from this list.

The defending champions Manchester City, owned by Shiekh Mansour and all his money and grandeur, had spent a grand total of $33 million on three players until the club snatched 23-year-old central defender Eliaquim Mangala on Monday for an appalling $53 million fee.

source: AP
Can Kompany and Pellegrini lead City to glory once again this season?

Again, we repeat that they are the defending champions, and it’s well known how studded with talent that roster is. However, there’s the common phrase that resonates around every professional sport’s offseason:

“If you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse.”

With the purchase of Mangala, City finally spent some money, that much can’t be denied. The club, remember, is shackled (not really) by Financial Fair Play rules indicating they can not spend more than $80 million net loss in the transfer market.

However, with the surprise improvement of Martin Demichelis and the prior existence of one of the Premier League’s best defenders in Vincent Kompany, where will Mangala fit? The club is already looking to sell promising young central defender Matija Nastasic, who was a key component of their 2nd-place season two years ago and is still just 21 years old, because he’s not finding time. Why not just keep him instead?

So despite the club’s unquestionable ability to open the books, fans are undeniably pondering still: will Manchester City’s inability to purchase key players this season suddenly make them underdogs?

A wider lens must be used to capture the answer to that question. Despite City’s success the past three seasons in the domestic competition, they’ve struggled mightily abroad. The club has never fallen to lesser competition in the Champions League over the last few years, but they’ve never been able to make the leap to elite status, finding themselves eliminated far too early by clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Sporting CP.

If the Citizens wish to get over the European hump, they haven’t shown it this offseason, sitting around watching clubs scoop up top talents before making an inflated purchase for a player the club doesn’t really need. In fact, more players are still rumored to be on their way out (Javi Garcia, Nastasic) than on their way in (???).

It must be said that their business to capture Bacary Sagna and Frank Lampard for little to no money is good business, but how much can they truly bring? Lampard is quality in a midfield that needs cover badly, but he’s 35 now and will struggle for a full season.

It goes without saying that Manchester City is loaded with talent, and they could still easily win the Premier League with this team.

However, their relative failures in the transfer market this summer will no doubt leave them scratching and clawing for even a modest Champions League finish, and could also doom them domestically should the clubs around them hit with all their big-money gambles. In fact, the most exciting news to come from the Etihad this summer is the signing of David Silva and Vincent Kompany to long-term contracts.

Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, David Silva, Yaya Toure, and the rest of the star-studded cast will still likely lead a Premier League campaign worthy of a title challenge. But this club has aspirations bigger than that, and without smart buys in the transfer market, those lofty goals will continue fall on deaf ears.

Remember, this is the club that fired Roberto Mancini the year after winning the Premier League title for finishing second. Good luck, Manuel Pellegrini.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain

Arena says there’s no reason for Pulisic to leave Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic has been the subject of transfer talks for some time now after becoming an instant star at Borussia Dortmund, but one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s former coaches says it might be wise for him to stay put; at least for now.

MORE: Ronaldo scores fourth goal in World Cup ]

Former USMNT boss Bruce Arena spoke about Pulisic, who has had rumors of moves to Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United surrounding him recently.

Arena cited consistent playing time as the main reason why Pulisic may want to consider holding off on a transfer for now.

“I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.

“In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.

“Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”

Pulisic has spent three seasons at Dortmund, scoring 12 goals in all competitions during that span.

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?