Areas of improvement for Man City next season

Leave a comment

Many are trumpeting Manchester City’s amazing title season as the tip of the iceberg under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

While the club’s momentum was tired by a pair of losses to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League and a come-from-ahead failure versus Manchester United, the City set is prepared to smash any number of records by season’s end.

Yet it’s not irresponsible to suggest City will get better in 2018-19. Any argument that teams may figure out Guardiola can be mooted by his players’ increased familiarity with his system. There’s an argument to be made that City will lose more matches based solely on bounces and luck, but Guardiola’s men can perform better even with the stylish demands of their boss.

Here’s how:

Return of Mendy — Benjamin Mendy was a thrilling addition to the team before his ruptured ACL caused him to become more known for his entertaining Twitter feed than anything he’d do with a ball at his feet. Left back was actually an issue for City on several occasions this season, and Mendy’s return to health coupled with increased Danilo familiarity (should he stay) will help the cause more than it hurts it.

English backs get better (or get going) — Of players who played a bunch for City, Kyle Walker and John Stones ranked ninth and 13th according to WhoScored and ninth and 11th on Squawka in terms of individual performances. Walker’s numbers were his worst in three seasons, understandably given his comfort at Spurs and a new system, while Stones has been stagnant for both Everton and City since his breakout first two seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Still just 23, he needs to improve to be a part of a top Premier League defense.

More consistency from the right wing — Raheem Sterling can line up on any part of an attack trident, even getting some center forward time, but the league needs to look out if he can continue to improve his service from the right side. Right now, teams focus heavily on Leroy Sane on the left, where Guardiola looks to set up shop more often than not. That’s opened things up for Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva… now Sterling needs to do the same for Sane, who could have an unbelievable run with a little more space.

Center forward insurance — Sergio Aguero was devastating at forward despite a car accident and knee injury restricting his season so far to 25 matches (21 goals and six assists there is pretty good, huh?). He’s also 29 years old.

Recently-minted 21-year-old striker Gabriel Jesus has 10 league goals this season, but only two since netting eight times in his first 11 matches. Olarenwaju Kayode and Marlos Moreno won’t be the answer in returning from loan spells, and Lukas Nmecha isn’t quite ready to be a reliable part of the club.

Who are Pep’s second and third strike options next year? At least one is probably coming from outside the Man City stable.

Twitter reacts as Man City wins Premier League

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Leave a comment

Manchester City are Premier League champions again thanks to a Manchester United loss — at Old Trafford — to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

[ MORE: Man Utd 0-1 WBA | NUFC 2-1 Arsenal ]

The City title was inevitable, but amongst the celebratory Tweets are a lot of “Wow” moments for United’s loss and City’s amazing run.

Here are some of our favorites:

Man City announces U.S. preseason tour with Mendy visit (video)

mancity.com
Leave a comment

The probable, likely, probably-should-just-give-it-to-them, almost certain Premier League champions are coming Stateside this summer.

[ MORE: Mourinho ‘practically’ concedes PL title ]

Manchester City is returning to the United States as part of its 2018 preseason, the club announced Friday.

New York City, home of its sister MLS club, has been announced as one of the locations, with other cities to be named in the coming weeks.

In other news that isn’t too surprising, Benjamin Mendy‘s massive transfer fee might have been worth it for the public relations alone:

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!

Guardiola updates Aguero status after car accident; Mendy recovery

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
1 Comment

Pep Guardiola‘s seen two of his top talents injured in the last week, one on the field and one of it.

Benjamin Mendy confirmed this week that he faced a long absence following a ruptured ACL, and Guardiola said Friday that he doesn’t expect the wing back to return until at least April.

[ MORE: Klopp “can’t shoot from the bench” ]

That’s admittedly a foot note, though, given the overnight news that star striker Sergio Aguero was injured in a car accident in Netherlands. Guardiola updated Aguero’s status, and said he has not problem with the forward using his day off to go to a concert outside of England.

“I will speak to him today. First impression is he has broken his rib.

“Day off is to be happy. I am a trainer who doesn’t want to train every day because they need to rest, mentally and physically.

Guardiola said Aguero is “okay.” Man City certainly has the depth to handle his absence, though the timing is difficult as they visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).