As the madness of deadline day rumbled on, one man who had his feet up watching daytime TV was Manuel Pellegrini.
He had all his business concluded before the deadline in serene fashion. No hiccups, no missed targets and quite simply amassed a couple of quality signings. Quality signings which could very easily propel City to the title again this season.
Raheem Sterling cost City a lot of money, but even that was massively eclipsed yesterday by the Manchester United madness that brought Anthony Martial to England for a reported €80m. More expensive than Zidane, read the front page of French sports newspaper L’Equipe – more expensive than any teenager ever, and more expensive than most transfers ever, too. If the Sterling money was crazy, at least he’s a proven Premier League player and an established international.
The ‘Sterling Silva’ partnership has been right on the money so far. City have scored ten goals and conceded none. They have both the best defensive and offensive records in the league. Sterling has his first goal, Aguero is looking dangerous, and Jesus Navas has been playing on the wing!
So imagine what happens now that Kevin De Bruyne comes into the side to take Navas’s place. City’s front four is frightening. Never before has the Premier League seen such overwhelming artillery. Manchester City have come up with something very novel indeed.
Not only is it the front four I’ve mentioned, but add the options from the bench, the strength in depth. Nasri is still at the club, and like all players of pedigree, he’ll be hurting at losing his place. When he gets a chance to play, he’ll be desperate to take it. What’s more, the fact he’s still there means that Silva can take a rest from time to time. Nasri is a quality replacement for him if needed. When City lose Silva, they lose a lot of creativity. A Samir Nasri with a point to prove can at least replace some of that.
Then there’s Jesus Navas. He’s pure pace, but not much else. There are defences out there who are vulnerable to that sort of pace. Rather than play with the silkier Silva and De Bruyne, playing only one of those players in the middle with Navas and Sterling on either side will bring devastating speed to City’s attack, and make them lethal on the counter.
Last but not least, City have options in the very front line too. Sergio Aguero will start as many games as possible this season, but sometimes Aguero will not be able to make the impact necessary to break teams down. Pellegrini has proven Premier League goalscorer and all-round attacking handful Wilfried Bony to call upon if the Aguero approach isn’t working.
All the while, Yaya Toure is supporting from deep with Fernandinho playing a box to box role – and popping up with a few goals already this season, lashed right into the back of the net.
De Bruyne isn’t a needless signing from Pellegrini. He’s someone who compliments the team he has already. Thankfully David Silva will no longer rot on the wing of a 442, if he does play wide, he can cut inside more effectively if he doesn’t have two strikers in his way, but it looks like he’ll have the central role of a 4231. Which leaves Sterling on one wing and De Bruyne on the other. One side is pace, the other is class, and the whole thing is explosive and lethal.
But like all good teams, they seem to have more than just the ability to win games. Thanks to their blistering start and the fact that every team they have faced so far has been thoroughly outclassed, Manchester City exude an aura. No team will want to face them, and when they do defences will fear them, probably a little bit too much.
Manchester United teams under Ferguson had that aura. Everyone knew that going to Old Trafford was going to be the toughest game of their season, whether that thought was justified or not. The Etihad Stadium promises to have the same status this season because City are just that frightening at the moment.
The summer belonged to City, just as the one before it belonged to Chelsea. Chelsea’s signings won them the title – City’s might win them a dynasty.