The Premier League is finally back. After months of sitting around in the darkness and scrolling through Italian journalists’ Twitter feeds for a daily fix of any news we could find, we have some football to talk about, some real life, tangible football.
City have arguably stolen the headlines over the summer, having spent a total of £212m so far according to transferleague.com. The headline signings are the full-backs, the arrivals of Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, both for north of £50m with add-ons, from Tottenham and Monaco respectively as well as former Chelsea target Danilo from European champions Real Madrid.
They’re not stopping any time soon either, with manager Pep Guardiola admitting that there is more to come in terms of spending as he looks to make up for a first maiden season at any club without a trophy to celebrate. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has taken his overhaul of the Sky Blues into overdrive this summer, shipping out a number of older faces with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov and Bacary Sagna all departing, as well as Joe Hart once again heading out on loan, this time staying within the Premier League at West Ham.
No club in England’s top flight has quite gone to the excess of Paris Saint-Germain, who forked out an eye-watering €222m to bring Barcelona’s Neymar to the French capital after he decided to step out from under Lionel Messi’s shadow in a World Cup year in pursuit of the Ballon d’Or. Those in the Premier League won’t reach those levels this summer, but in their own pursuit of silverware they have gone to unprecedented levels in this country.
When the world record was broken for Paul Pogba last summer, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claimed that within a couple of years such a fee would not seem so ridiculous, and it seems he has been proven right rather quickly.
City’s summer spending has made them clear favourites with the bookies to lift the Premier League title this term, and with such a wealth of attacking talent on offer to Guardiola, it’s easy to see why. Of course, there are plenty of factors which will influence the title race over the course of the season to come, however, given his record you would not bet against Pep winning a first title in England this term.
While it has put City in good stead with the bookmakers, there have been some who have questioned the money spent this summer, even Guardiola has admitted it’s unsustainable, meaning there is plenty of pressure on the Spaniard to deliver this season.
The former midfield star found out last season that, after a stunning start and an easy ride from the press things can get heated when it starts to go wrong. In spending hundreds of millions in one summer, Guardiola has only supplied the press with more ammunition ahead of his second term in charge.
If things go as they did at the start of last season, he should have no worries – as long as that form is sustained throughout the season, which is a lot to ask. However, if his side get off to a slow start in the Premier League, questions will be asked, very, very quickly.
With that in mind, the Sky Blues need to make an example of the sides they come up against over the opening couple of months. They started well with a 2-0 victory over stubborn Brighton on the opening weekend.
Their early run includes clashes with Everton, Liverpool and – at the end of September – the incumbent champions, Chelsea. If Guardiola can roll those big sides over early on in the campaign, as well as maintaining results against the sides they are expected to beat, then they will be exceptionally well positioned come the turn of the year.
As mentioned, there are a number of factors which could throw their campaign off, a number of which are out of Guardiola’s hands and take no regard for who spent what over the summer. However, regardless of how much has been spent, if they have done their recruitment right then City could be in for an outstanding year, they just need to go and prove it.