2017/18 Season Review
After a disappointing first season in charge Pep Guardiola wasted no time in preparing for the new season. Just days after the curtain had been drawn on the 2016/17 campaign City showed their intent by bringing in 22 year old Portugese playmaker Bernado Silva from Monaco for £43M.
The Blues’ promising young goalkeeper Angus Gunn was sent on a season long loan to Norwich, leading the way for City to announce the signing of Brazilian keeper Ederson Moraes from Benfica for £35M.
Continuing the rebuild of his defence, Pep persuaded the club to lay out an initial £45M to bring England and Spurs’ right back, Kyle Walker to the Etihad.
City recouped cash on fees and wages as more players left The Etihad. Without playing a league game for The Blues four players left for fees, Enes Unal moved to Villareal for a fee in the region of £12M, Aaron Mooy was signed by newly promoted Huddersfield for £8.5M, City received £1.8M for Ruben Sobrino as he moved to Deportivo Alves and Celtic paid £4.5M for Oliver Ntcham. Other more established players off the wage bill were Nolito who moved to Sevilla for £7.9M, Alexsander Kolarov was transferred to Roma for £4.5M, and West Ham took Joe Hart on a season long loan for a loan fee of around £5M.
Before Guardiola’s squad flew out to America, 19 year old Brazilian starlet Douglas Luiz was brought to the Etihad from Vasco da Gama for £10M.
City’s first pre-season game was the first Manchester Derby to be played outside England, as a full strength Manchester United beat a very inexperienced City team 2-0 in Houston in the International Champions Cup, the star of the game was City’s 17 year old Academy star Phil Foden and after the game Pep commented ‘I don’t have words, I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw. You are the lucky guys who saw the first game, for the first team for Manchester City, of this guy. It’s a long time since I saw something like this. His performance was another level. He’s 17-years-old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift. He will stay with us training with us in the pre-season and maybe he’ll stay with us in season because he’s special.’
City then continued their rebuild of the defence as they brought in versatile Brazilian full back Danilo from Real Madrid for a fee of £26.5M.
this was followed by a record fee paid for a defender as City handed over £52M to Monaco for French left back Benjamin Mendy.
City continued their US tour in Los Angeles with a brilliant display against Real Madrid, beating the Spaniards 4-1. Then moving on to Nashville City beat Tottenham by a country mile in a 3-0 victory.
The Blues new signing Douglas Luiz was then loaned out for the season to City’s new ‘feeder’ club Girona, another youngster leaving The Etihad, but on a permanent basis was Kelechi Iheanacho who joined Leicester for £25M, City though inserted a buy back fee of £50M into the contract.
In their final pre-season outing Pep’s side put West Ham to the sword in Iceland with a comfortable 3-0 victory over The Hammers.
Another exit from the side was Fernando who joined Galatasaray for an initial fee of £5M.
The season’s opener could have been a tricky start for Pep’s side, facing newly promoted Brighton at the Amex Stadium, however against a blanket Seagull’s defence City produced a good 2-0 victory.
City then flew to Spain to compete for The Costa Brava Trophy in a friendly against Girona, where Academy players Pablo Maffeo, Aleix Garcia, Douglas Luiz and Marlos Moreno had all been sent on loan. An inexperienced City team lost 1-0.
Another player not in Pep’s future plans left the club, Samir Nasri joined Antalyaspor in a £3.2M transfer.
City’s first home game was against Everton and, as happened too many times last season, The Blues were subjected to another atrocious refereeing display, Bobby Madley incorrectly sending off Kyle Walker for a second yellow card in the first half, nobody in the ground, or in the millions watching on Sky could see why Walker was sent from the field for an innocuous challenge, indeed ex referee Graham Poll commented ‘Bobby Madley’s decision to send off Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is a mystery, this ref is not good enough and this game was too big for him’. As it was City’s 10 men came back from 1-0 down to draw 1-1.
Despite another poor refereeing display, where Mike Dean failed to send off two Bournemouth players for obvious red card offences, City won 2-1 with a last gasp winner from Raheem Sterling, who was then inexplicably sent off as Dean showed him a second yellow card for what he saw as excess celebrations.
Moving into the international break the early table showed City fourth on seven points.
With just a few days before the transfer window closed Jason Denayer joined Galatasaray on a season long loan, and Patrick Roberts returned to Scottish champions Celtic for another season. Wilfried Bony moved back to Swansea for £12M and 17 year old Academy star Jadon Sancho moved to Borussia Dortmund for £9M.
There were no post international break headaches for City as they scored fifteen goals without reply within a period of eight days. In the league Liverpool were put to the sword at the Etihad, beaten 5-0, then in the first group game in The Champions League an amazing display at Feyenoord saw The Blues win 4-0. Then back in the league a near perfect performance by Pep’s side ended in a 6-0 victory at Watford.
In the Carabao Cup third round at West Brom City put out a very experienced second string side and beat the Baggies 2-1 courtesy of a brace from Leroy Sane.
Back in the League and The Blues became the first side to score five goals or more in three consecutive top-flight games in the same season since Blackburn did so in 1958/59, as they beat bottom of the table Crystal Palace at The Etihad 5-0, the only downside saw Benjamin Mendy injured with what looked like a possible bad knee injury.
Pep’s side then saw off a good Shakhtar Donetsk side 2-0 in the Champions League.
two days later there were two bad injury updates; it was confirmed that Benjamin Mendy had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which could see him miss the rest of the season, and in addition Sergio Aguero suffered a broken rib, when a taxi he was in crashed into a bollard in Amsterdam, and it was feared he would be unavailable for at least a month.
Without Aguero, Mendy and, the again injured Vincent Kompany, City travelled to Stamford Bridge and produced the performance of the season as they played Chelsea off the park and beat them 1-0 but it could have been by a lot more. And so moving into another international break City were top of the league and unbeaten.
Post international break The Blues continued their magnificent form as they produced a breath taking display to beat Stoke 7-2 at The Etihad.
City became the first team to score 29 goals in their first eight league games since Everton in 1894.
In the Champions League The Blues dug out a gritty 2-1 win to beat a very good Napoli side, before equalling their all time consecutive victory record beating Burnley 3-0 at the Etihad to register eleven wins on the trot in all tournaments. Pep’s team, although very understrength, went on to beat the record as they beat Wolves on Penalties in the fourth Round of the Carabao Cup. A brave Wolves team kept City to 0-0 after extra time but Claudio Bravo was City’s hero saving twice in the penalty shoot out.
Back in the Premier League and the victory’s continued as they beat West Brom 3-2 at The Hawthorns. The record books were being rewritten game on game and City produced a great display in one of the best Champions League games ever seen as they won 4-2 at Napoli to make it 14 victories on the trot and more significantly Sergio Aguero became The Blues’ greatest ever goal scorer as he netted for the 178th time to take Eric Brook’s long standing record.
In the final game before the final international break Sergio Aguero scored again as Pep’s side beat Wenger’s Arsenal 3-2 to make it 5 victories on the trot plus 23 games unbeaten and were already eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
After the break City made it 16 consecutive wins in all competitions as they beat Leicester 2-0 at The King Power Stadium, Garth Crooks writing for the BBC scribed “City played some of the best football ever played in the history of the Premier League”.