Manchester City finished last season without a trophy and that is not a situation the City hierarchy will want repeated in 2017/18. Surprisingly, the Citizens have just one League Cup title to show for their efforts over the last three seasons, despite being one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League. So what is in store for this coming season? And can Pep Guardiola bring the same success he achieved with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich?
Last season saw City finish third in the Premier League behind Chelsea and Spurs, a full 15 points behind Antonio Conte’s Blues. They were knocked out of the League Cup in the fourth round by bitter rivals Manchester United, and sent packing from the FA Cup by eventual winners Arsenal at the semi final stage. Much was expected from a Champions League campaign – the trophy most desired by the Citizen’s owners – but they fell at the round of 16 stage in an epic two-legged battle with Monaco. A 5-3 home victory was followed by a 3-1 away defeat, leading to a 6-6 aggregate scoreline which saw them lose out on away goals, a worse return than the semi final which they competed in the previous year.
Benjamin Mendy has become the latest high profile signing at the Etihad, completing a £52 million transfer from Monaco which makes him the world’s most expensive defender. The capture of the highly rated French left-back has taken City’s spending over the £200 million mark already, with over a month of the transfer window remaining. He joins fellow Monaco star Bernardo Silva, as well as Real Madrid’s versatile Danilo, Benfica goalkeeper Ederson, Spurs right-back Kyle Walker and Brazilian youngster Douglas Luiz.
These big name players join the likes of De Bruyne, Sterling, Stones, Sane, Jesus, Gundogan, and Bravo – all signed over the last two years. Pep Guardiola has a great record of managing the world’s best players during his time at Barca and Bayern, and he has taken steps in this window to address City’s Achilles heel from last season in defence. Ederson is expected to take the number one jersey, and in Walker and Mendy, the Spanish manager has brought in two of Europe’s finest full-backs – both of whom are at home with Guardiola’s fast paced attacking brand of football.
The likes of Kolarov, Zabaleta, Clichy and Sagna have all been allowed to leave Manchester, as well as keepers Hart and Caballero. Navas and Nolito have also departed, and Sami Nasri is expected to follow in due course.
It was the 2013/14 season that City last won the Premier League, a year in which they also picked up the League Cup, but their only trophy since was the League Cup they collected in 2015/16. That hasn’t stopped most bookmakers installing them as favourites to win the title in 2017/18, with Betfair and Bwin offering best prices of +190 about Guardiola leading a title charge.
Few teams in recent history have managed to defend the Premier League trophy so Chelsea are easy to oppose, but Manchester United, Spurs and Liverpool will all feel that they can provide a significant challenge in 2017/18.
The Champions League is probably the one trophy that anyone associated with the club would take given the choice before the start of the season, and City are a much more palatable +1400 with BetStars and 188Bet to win Europe’s most coveted competition.
Real Madrid will be chasing a history-making third Champions League in a row, while Barcelona will be trying to get back on the scene after some barren seasons. Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and PSG will also be serious contenders, while England has five entrants including Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs.
It would be no mean feat to finish top of that group, but on paper City’s squad is certainly up there with the best of them. A quarter final berth will be the very least that the blue half of Manchester will expect and anything could happen from that stage.
It is unthinkable that Guardiola will complete another season without a trophy, and the domestic cups may well provide the best opportunity to secure some silverware if they fall short of the two main targets. City are joint favourites to land the FA Cup at +600 with William Hill and Unibet, along with Chelsea and Manchester United at similar odds.
They haven’t won this competition since the 2011/12 season, and it certainly carries with it a bit more prestige than the English Football League Cup. Unsurprisingly the Etihad outfit are also favourites for that competition, with Bet365 and Betway offering odds of +600 .
Alternatively if you think this will be a season to remember, you can find odds of +3300 that Pep Guardiola will bring in at least three trophies, and +35000 to win all four aforementioned competitions!
In the crazy world of football it would come as no surprise to see the manager lose his job if City finish another season without silverware, and the League Cup may feature higher on Guardiola’s priority list than on that of his biggest competitors. The final of that competition is usually played in March, and thus offers the chance of a trophy before the real business end of the season gets underway. With prohibitive odds about the Premier League and a doubt that City have the goods to win the Champions League, a punt on a domestic cup might be the most viable option for the Citizens.
Manchester City to win the EFL Cup