Pre-Season Prediction: Last August I predicted Manchester City would put up a decent fight for the title, but would end up in 2nd place behind Chelsea.
Finishing Position: Premier League Champions.
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Manuel Pellegrini had replaced Roberto Mancini in the Summer of 2013, and was granted a bumper transfer kitty which allowed him to strengthen an already strong squad with the likes of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic.
From the off, the goals started to flow at the Etihad with numerous big wins including a 4-1 over rivals Manchester United, but the team got off to a rocky start on the road. They failed to win a Premier League away game in August or September and Pellegrini found himself under some early pressure, but he was able to put that right with some tweaks to the defence and clever management of Joe Hart. City's firepower continued to be the difference, putting six goals past Tottenham and Arsenal, and seven past Norwich as they became the fastest team ever to reach 100 goals scored in a season.
Yaya Toure was the key man in a more advanced role, scoring 20 Premier League goals and developing a knack for scoring stunning free-kicks, Fernandinho added steel at the base of the midfield, while Pablo Zabaleta had an exceptional season to establish himself as a world class full-back. Sergio Aguero spent much of the campaign injured, but when fit he formed a deadly partnership with Alvaro Negredo, while Edin Dzeko also chipped in with some vital contributions. One of the biggest revelations was the improvement of Martin Demichelis, who went from laughing stock at the beginning of the season to an important member of the first XI in partnership with captain Vincent Kompany, who himself was consistently excellent.
Despite topping the table for just 14 days across the campaign, the quality of the starting XI along with the depth of the entire squad meant Pellegrini's men were strong enough to pounce when Liverpool wobbled, sealing a second Premier League title to add to the Capital One Cup success from earlier in the season.
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Likely Departures: Joleon Lescott (free), Gareth Barry (free), Costel Pantilimon (free)
Needs: Centre-back, back-up Goalkeeper, one "star name"
City have been hamstrung somewhat by the recent Financial Fair Play judgement which brought a £50million fine, a Champions League wage cap (total wages of next season's Champions League squad must not exceed last season's) and a restriction of their Champions League squad from 25 to 21 players.
The good news for the club is that their squad is so strong, they don't really need to make any major additions and can probably sell a few fringe players to reduce the wage bill and assist in the alignment against the FFP rules moving forward. Manuel Pellegrini will need a new back-up for Joe Hart and could do with a quality central defender to replace the outgoing Joleon Lescott, but aside from that they are close to having two international quality players for every position. Therefore, the priority is to keep Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero at the club, with both players linked to moves away from the Etihad over the summer, and with Toure (and his agent) in particular causing problems thanks to some scheming interviews with the media.
Arsenal's Bacary Sagna and Porto midfielder Fernando have also been linked, and one would expect the Abu Dhabi money-men to make one marquee signing to keep City's profile high, while also giving Pellegrini and his squad an extra element in pursuit of their ultimate goal - winning the UEFA Champions League.