2013/14 SEASON REVIEW
Pre-season started early for the managerless Blues as City pounced in early June to secure the signing of 28 year old Brazilian box-to-box defensive midfielder Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee reported to be around £30M.
A few days later City splashed the cash again as they paid Sevilla around £15M to bring 27 year old Spanish winger Jesus Navas to The Etihad.
After widespread speculation in the media, mid June it was announced that former Malaga boss, Manuel Pellegrini would become City’s new Manager and had signed a three year deal. Ruben Cousillas comes in as Assistant Manager and Xabier Mancisidor as goalkeeping coach, Brian Kidd would stay on the coaching staff as one of Pellegrini’s assistants.
Carlos Tevez severed his ties with the Etihad as he moved to Juventus for a fee reported to be around £12M, more importantly in the era of the Financial Fair Play rules it should save City around £27M on the balance sheet.
Moving into July and Karim Rekik joins PSV Eindhoven on a season long loan.
The city squad minus players who were on extended holidays due to appearances in the Confederations Cup travelled to South Africa for a two match tour and back in England The Blues announced that they would be looking at expanding the Etihad to a 60,000 capacity in two stages, the first stage would hopefully be ready within two years with a third tier added to the South Stand.
Jeremy Helan joined Sheffield Wednesday for an undisclosed fee, and back in South africa City lost 2-0 in the first Nelson Mandela Football Invatational friendly against Supersport United in Pretoria
Manager Pellegrini was quick to announce that these two friendlies were more about fitness than results.
Maicon, after a short spell at The Etihad, moved to AS Roma.
City lost again in South Africa, 2-1 against Amazulu in the second Nelson Mandela Football Invitational friendly.
On the 19th July 2013 sad news came through that Bert Trautmann had passed away at the age of 89. On the same day City announced a double transfer coup with the purchase of strikers Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla for a fee of around £20M, and Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina for around £22M.
The new signings flew out to meet the squad in Hong Kong where City would be competing in the Barclays’ Asia Trophy. City’s semi Final saw an easy 1-0 win against South China on a rain sodden quagmire of a pitch.
The final against Sunderland was in doubt as the 3rd place play off was played before the final on a dog of a pitch, however, possibly due to pressure from sponsors the game went under way during further heavy rain and City beat Sunderland 1-0 to lift the trophy,
one piece of bad news however saw Nastasic carried from the pitch with an injury that could see him miss the start of the season. After a quick pit-stop back in Manchester, the squad flew to Germany to compete in the Audi Cup in Allianz Arena in Munich. City turned on the style to go five goals up in less than 35 minutes against AC Milan , the semi-final finished 5-3.
24 hours later, despite a great display by Pellegrini’s side, Bayern Munich beat City 2-1 in the final.
A week before the start of the season The Blues played their last friendly and it wasn’t the best preperation as they lost 3-1 to Arsenal in The Carlsberg Super Match in Helsinki.
City kicked off the season in fine style, having seen all their rivals play over the weekend, they were last to play as the match was chosen for Sky Sports Monday Night Football, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas made their debut in a scintillating attacking display that saw the Citizens beat Newcastle 4-0, the only downside was the site of captain, Vincent Kompany leaving the field in the second half with an inury that looked like it would keep him sidelined for a few weeks and with Nastasic still injured and Micah Richards also oon the treatment table with a hamstring injury, the defence was looking very thin and maybe Pellegrini would need to bring in a new central defender in the next fortnight before the transfer window closes.
After an unsuccesful time under Roberto Mancini, Scott Sinclair moved to West Brom on a year long role, and then promising Spanish youngster Denis Suarez also left The Etihad moving to Barcelona on a permanent deal believed to be with a fee in the region of £1M.
The euphoria after the Newcastle victory was soon turned to dispair as City were beaten 3-2 at newly promoted Cardiff .
City needed an other victory as soon as possible and in an unconvincing performance in a home league game against Hull , City were victors 2-0.
To cover for the lack of a right sided Centre Half Pellegrini made an emergency buy as City paid Malaga nearly £4M to bring in 32 year old Argentinian Centre Half Martin Demichelis.
Youngster Abdul Razak took the chance to get more experience as he agreed to move to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala on a season long loan. A more experienced player to move on a year long loan was Gareth Barry who joined Everton.
As the players dispersed for an International break City’s defensive woes grew worse as it was reported that new signing Demichelis had damaged ligaments in training and may be out of action for a couple of months.
David Silva returned early from the Spanish squad with a thigh injury that could keep him on the treatment table for a couple of weeks.
City’s first game after the break was at Stoke City and The Blues were lucky to come away with a point in a 0-0 draw.
After two failed campaigns in The Champions League City’s owners were hoping this year would see City at least qualifying for the knockout stages, and the Blues got off to a great start beating Viktoria Plzen 3-0 in The Czech Republic.
And so to the first Manchester Derby of the season and City blew United away with an impressive 4-1 win at the Etihad.
Two days later Pellegrini made ten changes as City emphatically beat Wigan 5-0 in the 3rd Round of the Capital One Cup.
City’s away day blues continued however and despite dominating Aston Villa at Villa Park, Pellegrini’s team lost 3-2.
The European Champions Bayern Munich then came to the Etihad and turned in a masterclass to beat City 3-1 in game two of their Champions League group.
Back in the Premier League and City needed a win to get themselves back in the pack and they got it with an excellent 3-1 win against Everton at The Etihad, the only bad news was that captain, Vincent Kompany worryingly had to leave the field with another injury just weeks after his return from the treatment table.
It would be two weeks before City played again due to another International break.
After the break City turned on the style at The Boleyn Ground to gain their first league victory away from The Etihad, beating West Ham 3-1.
The Blues’ chances of reaching the knockout stages of The Champions League looked more likely as they beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 on a ‘dog’ of a pitch in Russia, the only thing to tinge the victory was the disgraceful racist chanting from the Moscow fans directed at Yaya Toure, City complained to UEFA who then began disciplinary proceedings against CSKA.
Back in the league it was a tough task at Stamford Bridge, and despite dominating Mourinho’s team a disastrous error by Joe Hart in the last minute of the game saw City lose 2-1 to Chelsea .
Prior to the 5th Round Capital One Tie at St James Park UEFA found CSKA Moscow fans guilty off racist abuse and ruled the partial closure of their ground in the next Champions League fixture.
In the Cup City progressed to the Quarter Finals with a 2-0 win over Newcastle .
Back in the League and the Blues produced their best score in the top string of English football since 1968 beating Norwich 7-0 at The Etihad, a game in which Joe Hart lost his place to Costel Pantilimon.
City made it twelve goals in two games at The Etihad as they beat CSKA Moscow 5-2. The result meant Pellegrini had met the owners minimum target of getting the Blues into the knockout stage of the Champions league, which he had done with two games to spare.
Prior to the League game at The Stadium of Light City lost the services from injury of David Silva, Fernandinho and Nastasic and a depleted side disappointedly lost 1-0 at Sunderland . City went into the International break in 8th position but just four points off second spot.
The break clearly did Pellegrini’s side some good as they were rampant against a high flying Tottenham side thrashing them 6-0. three days later they beat Viktoria Plzen 4-2 in the Champions League and then moved into third spot in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Swansea , all three games played at The Etihad.
Rewarded for his fantastic performances for City and The Ivory Coast, Yaya Toure was name the BBC African Player of The Year.
City corrected their bad away record with a 3-2 win at West Brom and a 1-1 draw at Southampton .
With qualification into the knockout stage of the Champions League already guaranteed, Pellegrini sent a depleted City side to Germany to play Bayern Munich in the last match of the group, and after going two goals down within quarter of an hour it looked like City would get a mauling, however it ended in a memorable 3-2 victory for the Blues.
City’s biggest challenge in the league came with the visit of top of the table Arsenal to The Etihad and they were swept aside in an amazing game of football, City winning 6-3. The only downside was an injury to Sergio Aguero, it was feared he could be out for up to two months.
The Blues realised they had really made the big time when they were drawn against Barcelona in the first knockout stage of the Champions League, the first leg to be played in Manchester in February.
City moved into the semi-finals of The Capital One Cup with a 3-1 victory over Leicester at The King Power Stadium.
Another great away performance saw City beat Fulham 4-2 at Craven Cottage, as they moved into the Festive fixtures.
On Boxing Day City beat another rival in the Premier League race as they won 2-1 in a tight game against Liverpool and two days later a much changed Blues team struggled to find the net against lowly Crystal Palace but scraped home with a 1-0 win, both games played at The Etihad.
2014 started the way 2013 ended as City beat Swansea 3-2 at The Liberty Stadium on New Years Day.
City were drawn against Blackburn in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and at Ewood Park the Lancashire side turned in a great performance and forced a replay in a 1-1 draw.
The first leg of The Capital One Cup at The Etihad virtually guaranteed a final spot for Pellegrini’s men as they swept aside West Ham with a 6-0 win.
After two cup ties City carried on their fantastic league form beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James Park.
After a long fight for fitness promising forward John Guidetti joined Stoke on loan until the end of the season.
In the FA Cup 3rd Round replay at The Etihad City continued their incredible goal scoring, desposing of Blackburn with a 5-0 victory.
Edin Dzeko scored the first goal in a 4-2 victory over Cardiff in Manchester and it was a to be a record breakng strike, it was The Blues’ 100th goal in all competitions nine games earier than any other team had managed the feat.
West Ham were looking to save some face in the 2nd leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final however City had other thoughts, they won 3-0 on the night to book a place at Wembley with a 9-0 aggregate win.
After the announcement in May that City would be launching a new MLS franchise in New York, the City brand worldwide was boosted further as The Blues announced that they had acquired Melbourne Heart FC in Australia.
In the FA Cup 4th Round at The Etihad, an under strength City side went into the break 2-0 down against Watford and looked out of the Cup, however Pellegrini’s second half introduction of Kompany, Zabaleta and Jovetic, saw the Blues cruise into the 5th Round with a 4-2 victory.
Back in the league and City faced a stern task at top six contenders Tottenham Hotspur, the Blues earned world wide plaudits with an amazing display that saw Spurs beaten 5-1.
Despite the usual transfer rumours the transfer deadline finished with no additions to the City squad, a decision that might haunt City for the rest of the season because with Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri out for a month, on the eve of the home game against Chelsea Fernandinho sustained an injury in training that could keep him out of the side for a month, and despite the availability of James Milner, Pellegrini surprisingly named Demichelis as City’s holding midfield ‘dynamo’ and Jose Mourinho’s well educated Chelsea side exposed the Argentinian’s weakneses to register a first City home defeat in the league with a 1-0 win.
Without Aguero in the side City drew a blank again drawing 0-0 at Norwich, with five points dropped in two games City’s title aspirations weren’t looking good.
Typhoon like conditions in Manchester meant that City’s evening game with Sunderland was postponed, and on the eve of the FA Cup 5th Round weekend, City announced the exciting news that planning permission had been granted to put an extra tier on both the North and South stands. The South Stand tier would be added first and was hoped to be ready for the start of the 2015/16 season.
Pellegrini’s side gained a quick revenge over Chelsea beating the 2-0 in the 5th Round of the FA Cup.
It was the game that European nights at The Etihad was made for as Barcelona came to Manchester for the 1st leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie. Unfortunately due to the dismissal of Martin Demichelis early in the second half and an incorrect penalty decision. City’s chances of progressing further in the competition looked unlikely as the La Liga giants won 2-0.
City finished February scoring their only league goal in the month as they beat Stoke 1-0 at The Etihad.
Pellegrini had been tasked with winning at least five trophies in three years and the first opportunity came as The Blues met Sunderland at Wembley in the Capital One Cup Final, and despite City being 1-0 down at half-time, three spectacular second half goals from Toure, Nasri and Navas ensured City lifted the Silverware, the third time The Citizens had won the League Cup.
City still had three further trophies to fight for, however the doors to two of them were quickly slammed shut. First in the FA Cup 6th Round, cult hero Uwe Rosler brought his Wigan side to The Etihad and knocked City out with a 2-1 victory. Then just three days later a brave display from Pellegrini’s men couldn’t stop a 2-1 defeat by Barcelona at The Camp Nou to finish City’s European dream for another season.
City had to now concentrate all their efforts into the League and despite Vincent Kompany being sent off after just 11 minutes The ten men from Manchester ran the match at The KC Stadium to beat Hull 2-0.
With a third of the season left The Blues then put themselves in prime position for a title assault as they beat Fulham 5-0 at The Etihad and then dominated Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 3-0 win. The table showed Chelsea top on 69 points, City second on 66 points and Liverpool third on 65 points, City though, had two games in hand on The Pensioners and one on The Scousers.
A tough visit to fourth place Arsenal ended in a 1-1 draw.
Moving into April City beat Southampton 4-1 in Manchester, however in a classic match at Anfield City lost 3-2 against title contenders Liverpool, a defeat that left Pellegrini’s side seven points behind leaders Liverpool and with City having two games in hand the title favourites were now Liverpool, especially as City then went on to draw 2-2 at home to relegation threatened hoodoo side Sunderland.
All City could do now was to win their remaining five games and hope that Liverpool slipped up.
The Blues beat West Brom 3-1 at home and then with the knowledge that Chelsea had beaten Liverpool City beat Crystal Palace 2-0 on Sky’s Monday Night Football to put the title back in their own hands.
A tough game at Goodison Park saw City beat Everton 3-2. So with two home games left all The Blues had to do was win both and due to superior goal difference they would be Champions.
City had hit form just at the right time and they went on to beat Aston Villa 4-0 and then at The Etihad on the last day of the season, Vincent Kompany lifted the Premier League Trophy for the second time in three seasons as City beat West Ham 2-0.
The newly crowned Champions of England then flew to Abu Dhabi, where Sheikh Mansour watched them beat Al Ain 3-0 at The Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in a post season friendly.