As the Premier League season edges nearer to starting up again, with the big clubs bolstering their squads and making enquiries about further signings, one team seems further ahead in its preparations than others.
Manchester City, surprisingly quietly, have gone about their business extremely effectively. Many pundits proclaim Chelsea as title favourites because of Jose Mourinho’s return and Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but it is the wily Chilean Manuel Pellegrini who may have the edge judging by his transfer business so far.
City have cleverly targeted sensible signings of players who are not driven by ego and selfishness. The club who spent huge sums on the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have been targeting a different profile of player. No surprise that this is a club whose sporting strategy is being guided by the intellect of Ferran Soriano and Tkixi Begiristain, who did so much at Barcelona to help Pep Guardiola achieve success there.
Jesus Navas is a speedy and skilful winger who will add a direct element to their play out wide, and complement his team mate from last season at Sevilla, Alvaro Negredo. Negredo is a prolific forward, technical and a good finisher, who can do his chances of making it into Spain’s World Cup squad for Brazil next summer no harm by hitting the ground running in England. Negredo will be an option alongside Sergio Aguero to start up front for City next season, whilst Stevan Jovetic may also compete for a position there.
The Montenegrin is another great signing. More one to make than take goals, his skilful creativity should complement the direct style of Navas and the short passing intricate game of David Silva perfectly. With the power and technique of Yaya Toure and new signing from Shakhtar Donetsk Fernandinho, City have a great blend of talent in their squad going into the new campaign.
In Pellegrini, they arguably got the signing of the summer in managerial terms as well. His CV is not as flashy as Mourinho’s, but in many ways it is more impressive – having guided Malaga and Villarreal to the latter stages of the Champions League in debut campaigns, and achieved a points record for Real Madrid in his single season there. And unlike David Moyes, he has a great record in Europe. Pellegrini’s teams also play attacking and attractive football, and if he can mesh his virtuoso talents into a cohesive unit this season, he may well have the best chance of all the new managerial recruits at the top of the Premier League next season of guiding his team to the title.