While speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, John Hartson has praised Manchester City’s ability to rejuvenate their squad when needed.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been one of the most dominant forces of English football in recent years, winning the Premier League four times this decade.
The Citizens have spent big money in that time, and continued their spending spree by splashing out £62.8m on midfielder Rodri this summer – despite having won the league for the second consecutive season.
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It’s that approach of freshening things up that Hartson has pinpointed as something City have fully embraced and been rewarded by.
He said: “Man City have done that perfectly. They’ve got Sergio Aguero as their top goal-scorer, and then they have Gabriel Jesus for competition.
“It keeps players on their toes. I’m not sure whether you need to do it (buy a handful of new players) every year, but every so often. When a new player comes to the club it gives the whole group a lift.
“You can sense it in training, everybody wants to impress the new player. It’s a different voice in the dressing room. Dressing rooms can become stale at times. You’ve got to freshen the dressing room up and you’ve got to add to the squad to keep them hungry.”
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As former players and managers testify to, winning the Premier League is hard, but retaining it is far more difficult. City are the only team in the 2010s to have won it on consecutive occasions, and while that’s a testament to Guardiola and his players, it also comes down to their understanding of needing to constantly improve, and not resting on their laurels.
Getting to the peak of the mountain is only part of the journey, and City have shown in recent transfer windows that the only way to stay there is by being ruthless in their decision-making.
Just this past summer. for example, Guardiola waved goodbye to utility man Fabian Delph, and brought in a bona-fide long-term replacement for Fernandinho, with a big-money swoop for Rodri from Atletico Madrid.
Constantly keeping things fresh and the motivation levels high is an art form.
And, as Hartson quite rightly suggests, City really have mastered that in recent years.