Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

BEST OF BLUES YET TO COME ; Pellegrini's Men Haven't Got out of First Gear, but Still Look like Title contendersTHE SEASON SO FAR...WE ASSESS THE BEGINNING OFTHE NEW CAMPAIGN BY REDS AND BLUES

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

BEST OF BLUES YET TO COME ; Pellegrini's Men Haven't Got out of First Gear, but Still Look like Title contendersTHE SEASON SO FAR...WE ASSESS THE BEGINNING OFTHE NEW CAMPAIGN BY REDS AND BLUES

Article excerpt

PERFORMANCE SIX points from nine means City have replicated their start to last season fi when they ended up as champions!

The Blues have trundled through their first three matches without truly hitting top gear, apart from their second-half display against Liverpool.

They were functional and efficient in front of goal at Newcastle, and a little too one-paced and short of creativity in the home defeat to Stoke.

But it is clear the best is yet to come, and the prospect of facing Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea in eight breathless days should be the pep that they need.

Manuel Pellegrini feared his team might make a fractious start to the season due to the staggered pre-season forced upon them by the World Cup finals.

City had three players involved in the final a little over eight weeks ago, more than any other Premier League club.

That meant their pre-season preparations were more bitty than most, with Sergio Aguero still being eased back into action and Eliaquim Mangala and Frank Lampard still not ready.

The Blues have also had to gently re-introduce Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta and Fernandinho to football, and the result has been a changing team and some unsettled displays.

DEADLINE DEALINGS SOME City fans took to social media to vent their frustration at a lack of incoming activity on deadline day.

That was sparked by the farewell to Alvaro Negredo which left the Blues with three strikers, and ruined Pellegrini's plan of two players for every place.

But the City squad that emerged at the end of the transfer window looks leaner and meaner.

Fans love the shocks and surprises of deadline day, but managers and chief executives prefer the business to be done early.

City have Fernando and Willy Caballero completely integrated into their squad, with World Cup stars Mangala, Lampard and Sagna well on the way.

That is better than frantically buying up players in the last day or two of the window, and then starting to work with them.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL CITY are not champions by accident. …

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