Premier League Preview Number 6: Manchester City

13 August 2009

Manchester City

Biggest Ins: Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor add goal scoring power up front. Roque Santa Cruz thrived under Hughes at Blackburn, and will look to do the same at City. Gareth Barry comes in to the central midfield while Kolo Toure should provide a good partner to Richard Dunne.

Biggest Outs: Elano is off to Turkey, but not after dispensing plenty of attitude while at the club. I think Hughes made a mistake letting Sturridge go. Darius Vassell, Michael Ball and Ched Evans ended up surplus requirements.

Easiest Month: August. Before their Europa League trip, City opens at Ewood Park. After the UEFA Cup they host Wolves before going to Portsmouth. Considering the squad, this should be a nine point month.

Toughest Month: February. After an away trip to Hull, City host Bolton. The month ends with a visit from Liverpool before a trip to Stamford Bridge. They should get at least six points here, but four seems realistic.

Five Questions About Manchester City This Season
1) How short of a leash does Mark Hughes have? With the talent assembled, the ownership group will be thinking top four or bust. If Hughes starts off slowly, or has a run that see City falling out of the top six, I could see him sacked. If Hughes is in the job at the end of February, I’ll be surprised.
2) What does the starting midfield look like? If Hughes uses a four man midfield, I expect it to look like Shaun Wright-Phillips, Vincent Kompany, Gareth Barry and Stephen Ireland. If Hughes uses five, I expect Robinho to be the fifth. With this team midfield heavy, it will be interesting to see how Hughes placates.
3) Which Adebayor will we see? Will it be the pouting Adebayor we saw towards the end of last season or will he be out to prove every doubter of his wrong? I expect Adebayor to play like a man possessed this season.
4) With Kolo Toure coming into the fold, does the back four sort itself out? I expect the back four to look like this: Micah Richards, Richard Dunne, Kolo Toure, Wayne Bridge. However, I do expect Javier Garrido to give Bridge a run for his money at right back. It will make Shay Given’s job so much easier to have a set back four.
5) How big of a loss could Joe Hart be? Yes I know he went to Birmingham City on loan; but if Shay Given goes down to injury, can Kasper Schmeichel or Stuart Taylor pick up the slack?

My Ultimate Reality: Of all the teams in the Premier League, I thought about this prediction the longest. I still think Manchester City are a year away from ending up in the top four. I just don’t feel Mark Hughes is the man to take this club to the next level. They have all the talent in the world, but until Manchester City has a manager who has dealt with big egos before, I can’t pull the trigger on them in the top four. I expect them to be close until the final couple of months of this season. But in the end, City will end up in the Europa League next season.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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