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Preseason 2017 for Manchester City Provides a Preview of the Success of New Signings

4th August 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Everything seems to be falling into place nicely for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ahead of the upcoming Premier League campaign.

Knowing he needed reinforcements to his squad after his first season, the club’s hierarchy have duly obliged his wishes, as Man City have spent a mouthwatering £220 million on new signings. Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo have vitally strengthened and added some much needed dynamism to their fullback ranks, with the aging Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov all moving on.

preseason-2017-for-manchester-city-bernardo-silvaMeanwhile, Bernardo Silva’s arrival for £42.5 million following his overwhelmingly successful time at AS Monaco sees them acquire a player of immense quality, creativity and intelligence. Although he’s only just returned from a well deserved break after a busy summer with Portugal at the Confederations Cup in Russia, once he’s up to speed and regains full fitness, expect him to be a massive weapon going forward this term.

The other big money signing has been former Benfica goalkeeper, Ederson, who joined for a British record fee for a goalkeeper of £34.7 million. After a disastrous start in a friendly vs Manchester United, where an untimely error proved costly, the Brazilian has responded beautifully. His long and short passing has been immaculate out from the back, he’s made some stirring saves and he’s commanded his area with authority on his way to being an integral player in City’s statement friendly wins over Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.

“He has shown us amazing things in this period [in the US], not just the goal kicks, but also he saves a lot of balls and quickly closes down the space for the strikers,” Guardiola said in praise of his new goalkeeper.

preseason-2017-for-manchester-city-bernardo-ederson“He always decides well, with the long and the short [passes], and reads the decisions well. That’s why I wanted him, because to compete at the high level we need two excellent goalkeepers. He has this quality, in the goal kicks. When the opposition makes high pressing and it’s complicated, now we have the chance to put the ball in the other box, and of course we have a little bit more space in the middle.”

Despite spending such vast amounts, there’s a strong chance the Sky Blues’ cash splashing will continue, for links with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe are persisting. But as things stand, there’s plenty to get excited about, and City’s efforts both on and off the field have unquestionably been crucial.

Guardiola was particularly pleased with his side’s recent 3-0 friendly demolition of Mauricio Pochettino’s terrifically coached Spurs, noting how it was the best showing his team have produced under his tutelage. “We haven’t dominated like today,” Guardiola mused.

“Last season we were good, but not in 90 minutes like that. We cannot forget which team we played. Tottenham for the most part of last season played the best football. It’s pre-season, but we didn’t have a performance like that last season.”

There was indeed a lot to admire about City’s collective performance in Nashville, where Guardiola’s adaptable 3-4-3 formation, which often took on 5-3-2 and 3-4-2-1 shapes, gave Spurs numerous preseason-2017-for-manchester-city-v-spursheadaches. Within the Spaniard’s positional play system, their spacing and positioning worked wonders in terms of progressing the ball upfield by creating superiorities all over the pitch. Moreover, their presence in between opposition lines, in combination with the stretching effect the wing backs and attackers, largely Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, had on Pochettino’s backline ensured City dominated the contest.

Defensively, their aggressive pressing and counter pressing once they lost possession were additional highlights, in a match where Tottenham really struggled to get any rhythm going in their offensive phases due to City’s intensity here.

Less than two weeks out from their Premier League opener vs. Brighton & Hove Albion, the Citizens’ fans will be filled with excitement about the team’s prospects for 2017/2018. After a solid debut season that saw City finish third, Guardiola’s now beginning to truly stamp his mark on his expensively assembled squad.

Although it’s taken some time for his players to adapt to his meticulous methodology, City’s promising preseason has served as a glowing testament to his managerial work. Now, the challenge will be to translate their impressive form into the season proper, as they look to enjoy a success laden crusade both domestically and in Europe.

Visit Licence to Roam for more articles by Edward.