When Sheik Mansour completed his purchase of Manchester City on September 23rd 2009, nobody could have envisaged the impact his money would have had since then. Having captured world class talent such as Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Mario Balotelli, the Citizens are now ready to launch a serious title challenge against their more illustrious neighbours Manchester United. Even Sir Alex Ferguson, who previously dismissed his rivals as mere ‘noisy neighbours,’ has now acknowledged them as genuine contenders for all honours this season.
The winning of last season’s FA Cup, eliminating Manchester United en route to the final, has laid the foundations for this season and ended 34 years of hurt in the process. Now Roberto Mancini and his squad of mega-money signings are primed for the new season in which they are ready to wrestle the status of best team in Manchester (and England) from their rivals through claiming silverware.
Man City begin their Premier League campaign at home to Swansea on August 15th before away trips to Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur. September holds home games against Wigan and Everton which bookend an away fixture against Fulham. October contains home games against Aston Villa and Wolverhampton with an away trip to Blackburn and finally a massive away game to Old Trafford where they take on Manchester United in the first derby of the season on the 23rd.
November starts off by travelling to QPR, welcoming Newcastle United to Eastlands and finally playing Liverpool on Merseyside on the 27th. A congested December begins with a home fixture against Norwich before journeying to Chelsea on the 10th and then welcoming Arsenal to the City of Manchester Stadium on the 17th during a critical stage of the season. A home game against Stoke City followed by two away matches to West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland respectively complete their business for 2011.
The New Year begins with a stern home test against Liverpool on the 2nd with a short trip to Wigan next and finally Tottenham come to Eastlands to complete January’s activities. February has tough away games to Everton and Aston Villa as Fulham and Blackburn come to Manchester during the first season of spring.
Away games to Swansea and Stoke are contained in March’s fixtures as the title hopefuls and challengers are separated as the race for the Premier League crown enters its final phase. Bolton visit Eastlands firstly in the month before a colossal game against Chelsea on the 17th which may end up ending one side’s title chances. Sunderland at home are the final test for Roberto Mancini’s side as April begins with yet another big game against Arsenal on the 7th at the Emirates. West Brom at home and away fixtures to Norwich and Wolverhampton prepare Man City for a potential title deciding clash against Manchester United on the 28th with home advantage to the Blues.
May only has two games left in their league campaign as a trip to Newcastle precedes a home encounter with QPR on the 13th to finalise their domestic duties for another season.
There may be reservations as to how this new look Manchester City side can gel ahead of the new league campaign. With Gael Clichy and Stefan Savic adding more steel to their defence, Roberto Mancini is building a solid squad to fight for four trophies this season. With promising young England internationals like Joe Hart, Micah Richards and Adam Johnson polishing off a luxurious squad brimming with some top talent from abroad such as Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Nigel de Jong, it will still be a positive season should they miss out on the Premier League title and build on last season’s 3rd place finish.
The unfortunate last-gasp loss to Manchester United in the Community Shield portrays Manchester City as almost there in terms of competing with their cross-city rivals and their positive pre-season form in the Dublin Super Cup, where they won the competition despite coming up against other top European opposition in the form of Inter Milan, show that the Citizens are ready to play against the cream of the crop from the continent.
However it is still uncertain as to how far this side can go this season but one thing that is sure is Roberto Mancini is building a squad capable of challenging for trophies for many more years yet.
Patrick Devaney writes for Soccerlens.com.