Man City: Can They Add Success In Europe?

After winning the FA Cup and the Premier League in the last two seasons, can City now go further in the Champions League? Perhaps more signings are needed...

Last Updated: 17/08/12 at 13:17 Post Comment

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Last season:

Premier League Winners; Champions League Group stage; FA Cup Third round; Carling Cup Semi-finalists

Manager Roberto Mancini (since December 2009) Odds on being first out of his job 50-1 (19th)

Transfers in Jack Rodwell (Everton)

Transfers out Wayne Bridge (Brighton)

Legend has it that Sir Alf Ramsey's team talk at the end of normal time in the 1966 World Cup final was: "You've won this match once. Now go out there and win it again." Ahead of Manchester City's game with QPR, Roberto Mancini could have tried: "You've lost this title once. Now go out there and don't lose it again." Whatever was said, Joleon Lescott wasn't listening hard enough; luckily for City, some of his team-mates were.

In the end the best team won the title but the manner in which City turned a commanding lead into a deficit should have cost them their chance. Mancini is getting plenty of credit for taking the pressure off his players by saying they were out of contention but he was telling the truth, at least to start with.

United's defeat at Wigan and draw with Everton came out of nothing, setting up that dramatic derby. The perennial champions just do not lose leads that late in the season. Or at least - well, see the United entry.

By the end Carlos Tevez was back in the fold, despite my offer to be his luggage porter at Heathrow, and the striker pool overflows even more with Emmanuel Adebayor's drawn-out negotiations. Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, David Silva - City have a range of attacking options before you unleash Yaya Toure or bring Vincent Kompany up for a corner, interventions that settled late-season games against the Uniteds of Manchester and Newcastle.

City's striker strength drove Sir Alex Ferguson to chase down Robin van Persie; not least, perhaps, because of the fear that the Dutchman could otherwise have ended up at Eastlands, given his determination to leave Arsenal.

Of course, you need more than just forwards and it is a lack of cover at the back that has led to the interest in Daniel Agger. Kompany's absence last season often meant chances for Stefan Savic, who was not yet up to scratch and may never be.

City, with the benefit of a ridiculous amount of money flung at them, have set the standard for the division, at least until we see whether UEFA will curb significantly the ability of billionaires to bugger up football. The only addition this summer has been Jack Rodwell but this is a squad getting used to each other and to winning trophies, who should be better this season as a result, the more so if they can find a greater semblance of unity. Still, it is easy to imagine the wave of sympathy felt around the country when Roberto Mancini expressed his frustrations at Brian Marwood's failure to net transfer targets this summer.

The Italian may have to make do and mend as he looks to improve upon one pot in each of the past two seasons - obviously welcome but there have been disappointments, too, starting with the Champions League. The spat between Mancini and Carlos Tevez, when the Argentinian refused to warm up again, overshadowed the 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich that night that made qualification a struggle that City could not master. Mancini will wish to compete on all fronts, with a peaceful squad, and hope for a better FA Cup third round draw than Manchester United this time around.

City kick off their title defence on Sunday with a home banker against Southampton and the following home game is a rematch of last season's climax, with a Barton-less QPR coming to Eastlands. In between City travel to Liverpool, for a testing fixture; City won 18 out of 19 at home in the last campaign but dropped points in nine away games. After the international break, there are visits to Stoke and Fulham, sandwiching a home game against Arsenal. All three of this first trio of away matches were drawn last season.

Of course, you don't win titles in the autumn. But Mancini will want quick confirmation that his squad have what is needed to improve upon a title-winning campaign - or Marwood may find himself off the Christmas card list.

Philip Cornwall

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