Three lessons Manchester City learned in 2023

Manchester City’s Historic Treble in 2023

In 2023, Manchester City, under the management of Pep Guardiola, achieved a historic treble, creating lasting memories for supporters. Key players like Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, and Riyad Mahrez played crucial roles in this remarkable journey.

1. Crucial Contributions in the Treble Pursuit

Manchester City’s trek towards the treble saw outstanding performances, with Mahrez scoring a hat-trick in the FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United. Gundogan’s two goals secured a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the final, and De Bruyne’s significant equalizer against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-final was pivotal.

2. Departures and Injuries

Despite the triumph, Manchester City faced setbacks as Gundogan and Mahrez left for Barcelona and Al Ahli, respectively. Additionally, De Bruyne suffered a significant injury, affecting the team’s performance in the 2023/24 season.

3. New Additions and Challenges

To fill the void, Manchester City brought in younger players like Jeremy Doku and Josko Gvardiol, who lack the experience of their predecessors. These changes contributed to the team currently holding the fourth position in the Premier League.

The Importance of Experience

While various factors influence performance, Manchester City has come to appreciate the significance of experience, both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

1. Team Over Individual

Guardiola’s decision to exile Joao Cancelo sent a strong message to the squad. Despite Cancelo being a top performer, Guardiola prioritized the team over individual interests, showcasing the importance of collective unity.

The Role of John Stones

In reflecting on the 2023 season, the absence of John Stones has been particularly impactful for Manchester City.

1. Injury Woes

Stones’ limited appearances due to a hamstring injury created challenges for Guardiola, who struggled to find a suitable replacement for the unique role Stones played alongside Rodri.

2. Unmatched Contribution

Stones’ absence became evident as teammates, including Manuel Akanji, found it challenging to replicate his role. The team experienced difficulties, emphasizing the adage that you don’t realize the value of something until it’s gone.

Man City cannot lose £55k-a-week player Ederson thinks is ‘quality’ amid fresh exit talk

Manchester City boasts an impressive squad, and while the spotlight often shines on big-name players, the significance of goalkeeper Stefan Ortega Moreno cannot be understated. Amid recent rumors suggesting a potential summer exit for the German goalkeeper after two seasons at the Etihad Stadium, it is crucial for the club to retain him.

Ortega joined City from Arminia Bielefeld on a free transfer, initially garnering modest attention. However, his signing proved inspired, making crucial contributions during the Treble-winning season, particularly in the FA Cup, where he played every game and conceded only once.

Despite being the second-choice goalkeeper, Ortega’s importance is undeniable. The club should prioritize progressing on a new contract for the goalkeeper. Recent reports have linked him to Bayern Munich, a move that aligns with the Bavarian club’s need for a long-term replacement for the aging Manuel Neuer.

Ortega, though having limited first-team appearances (21 games), has consistently impressed when called upon by Pep Guardiola. He has kept 10 clean sheets, showcasing a playing style akin to Ederson, albeit at a slightly slower pace, enabling City to build from the back.

While Bayern’s interest looms, City has reportedly expressed a desire to extend Ortega’s contract, recognizing his value as an excellent backup. Beyond his on-field contributions, Ortega’s presence provides healthy competition for Ederson, pushing him to excel. Ederson himself acknowledges Ortega’s quality.

With only one year left on his contract this summer and reports of modest earnings (£55,000-a-week), securing a new deal for the 31-year-old goalkeeper becomes imperative. To entice Ortega to stay, executives may need to consider a salary increase, recognizing his vital role and potential as a future number one.

£180,000-a-week Man City player looked like he was back to his absolute best against Tottenham

In our assessment, Manchester City’s center-back Ruben Dias showcased a return to top form in the team’s 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

Despite earlier suggestions by Anton Ferdinand that Dias might be missing the presence of John Stones alongside him, the Portuguese defender proved his critics wrong during City’s FA Cup encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

With City breaking their curse at the Spurs’ stadium, Ruben Dias played like a defensive colossus, demonstrating a commanding presence in the center of defense. He effectively nullified the threat of Richarlison, consistently staying close and preventing the Brazilian from turning and initiating counter-attacks for the under-pressure Spurs.

City’s defensive success in limiting Tottenham to just one shot on target owed much to Ruben Dias’ exceptional defending inside the penalty area. He repeatedly won ground and aerial duels, blocked shots, and intervened in every attacking move the hosts attempted.

Throughout the game, the three-time Premier League winner displayed flawless positioning, reminiscent of his outstanding performances from the previous season. Despite playing as a right-sided center-back, a position considered his weaker side compared to the left, Dias controlled proceedings alongside Nathan Ake against Tottenham.

Even in possession, Dias impressed with his passing, particularly in breaking the lines with precision. His performance in north London reaffirmed the adage that the cream always rises to the top, showcasing Ruben Dias’ enduring quality.

£75k-a-week Man City target Micah Richards called ‘amazing’ could be huge Kalvin Phillips upgrade

Manchester City continues to explore potential squad improvements, and Douglas Luiz’s recent performance reaffirms why the club is reportedly considering re-signing him. Despite a quiet January transfer window, City did not make any additions to the squad, except for the announcement of a deal for youngster Claudio Echeverri. However, Kalvin Phillips departed on loan to West Ham United for the remainder of the season, likely signaling a summer sale.

Douglas Luiz, currently excelling at Aston Villa, is making a strong case to be Phillips’ replacement. In Villa’s recent 5-0 victory against Sheffield United, Luiz displayed outstanding performance in midfield during his 45-minute playtime. He completed 29 out of 31 passes (94%), including four ‘key’ passes, the most in the game according to Sofascore. Luiz’s impactful play contributed to an early goal-scoring opportunity for Ollie Watkins, showcasing his versatility in both defensive and attacking aspects.

Micah Richards, on the Rest Is Football podcast, praised Luiz for a standout moment when he delivered a sublime pass to Watkins reminiscent of Kevin De Bruyne’s style, leading to a goal. Luiz’s consistent performances this season, with seven goals and seven assists, make him an attractive prospect for City, potentially offering an upgrade over Phillips.

Douglas Luiz’s ability to play as a holding midfielder or as an eight, coupled with his defensive solidity and attacking contributions, aligns well with City’s requirements. Pep Guardiola reportedly expressed interest in bringing Luiz back to the Etihad in November, and the Brazilian midfielder may consider a transfer in the summer to fulfill any unfinished business with City.

Manchester City appear to be bringing in another Jeremy Doku in 19-year-old gem, as amazing stat emerges

Manchester City is reportedly on the verge of signing Savio, a Brazilian player who could be likened to another Jeremy Doku-type talent. The deal, agreed just ahead of the Brentford game, involves City acquiring Savio, currently on loan at Girona from ESTAC Troyes. The 19-year-old has excelled, contributing seven goals and seven assists in 27 appearances across competitions for the La Liga side.

City’s move for Savio, scrutinized by the Premier League due to common ownership of Girona and Troyes by the City Football Group, may bring another dynamic player similar to Jeremy Doku into Pep Guardiola’s squad. While the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of February, Savio is projected to join City’s first team from July, starting pre-season under Guardiola.

Savio’s style of play aligns with exciting dribbling skills, as evidenced by leading La Liga in completed dribbles this season (62), according to WhoScored. The South American talent has garnered attention for his direct and skillful approach, drawing comparisons to Doku, renowned for his dribbling ability.

Despite considerations around City Football Group ownership, Savio’s impending move to City suggests the acquisition of an exciting and promising young talent. His experience in La Liga, coupled with Eredivisie exposure with PSV Eindhoven, positions him as a potential addition to City’s squad for the upcoming season. Guardiola may make a final decision after observing Savio during pre-season training.

Opinion… Why Pep Guardiola should’ve played £225k-a-week Man City ace in midfield over Alvarez vs Chelsea

In our perspective, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola should have opted to start Phil Foden in midfield instead of Julian Alvarez against Chelsea.

Despite Foden’s excellent performance in the right flank position against Copenhagen, Guardiola chose to play him in the same position against Chelsea. The setup in the Champions League clash saw Rodri on the right side of midfield, involving Foden more in the game compared to the previous match.

The decision to start Julian Alvarez instead of Bernardo Silva on the left side created balance in City’s midfield. However, the choice to bring in Alvarez over Foden, a natural midfielder, was unexpected. Alvarez, despite being a goal-scorer for City, had defensive responsibilities as part of a double pivot alongside Rodri.

Considering Foden’s recent hat-trick in midfield against Brentford, it’s perplexing why Guardiola believed Alvarez was better suited for the role against Chelsea. Foden, born in Stockport, was not only an attacking threat against Brentford but also demonstrated his ability to control the game in the first phase of play.

While Alvarez attempted to contribute in deeper areas, he struggled to impact City’s build-up beyond passing the ball back to Rodri or Akanji. Foden’s technical proficiency is considered superior to Alvarez, providing better ball manipulation to bypass Chelsea’s high press.

City’s sluggishness in building out of the back persisted, leading Guardiola to substitute Alvarez in the 64th minute. Later in the game, Foden was shifted centrally, indicating Guardiola’s recognition of the need for a creative boost. However, the limited time on the clock prevented Foden from changing the game.

While it may be understandable for Foden to stay wide to accommodate Bernardo Silva, Guardiola’s insistence on Alvarez as a creator remains puzzling, especially against a team of Chelsea’s caliber, considering Foden’s excellent performances in midfield for City this season.

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