These are exciting times at Manchester City, but it’s a club where you always feel like things could go badly wrong at any moment. And that moment could well be the Champions League qualifying round.
But if they can ease their way into the season, the sky’s the limit for City. They have the set-up on and off the pitch and they have a coach who can instill an identity because City have often looked flat over the last few seasons – under Guardiola that won’t happen.
But the most exciting thing is the youngsters coming through the ranks – can City bring through a golden generation of talent in their understated, yet quietly brilliant sort of way?
It was a strange season given that half of it was spent just waiting for Pep Guardiola to arrive – and that’s especially strange when you consider the fact that City made waves in Europe, reaching the semi final.
But what that shows is that City are capable of doing well in Europe even when they’re not at their best. This season, with all the uncertainty behind them, there’s plenty of room for positivity.
For the media, it’ll be trophies – possibly all of them, given the reaction to Guardiola’s ‘failure’ at Bayern – but for City fans it’s probably just good football. This season, at least, will be about creating a style of play and making City a force at home and in Europe.
Perhaps Europe is more important to the City hierarchy this season, and Pep Guardiola has never been knocked out of the Champions League before the semi final stage as a manager. So maybe we’ll see success defined as Champions League rather than Premier League.
The one thing City do well is the low-key way they go about their summer business. There are a few transfer sagas still to progress – John Stones and maybe even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – but for the most part, City simply identify their targets and buy them, which helps in the long run.
The bad, this summer, has been the pre-season tour of China which saw the first Manchester derby outside of the UK called off. It’s not City’s fault, there’s nothing they can do about the weather or a terrible pitch in Beijing, but no game against United might mean they’re not ready for Dortmund, and in turn it could make their first few competitive games that little bit more difficult.
Still, you’d trade a dismal pre-season for a good start to the season. The defeats don’t matter, but the disruption to preparation might.
Can you really pick one player out of Manchester City’s stellar team this season? Usually, it’s about keeping Sergio Aguero fit, but last season the injury to Kevin de Bruyne at just the wrong time may have been the factor that stopped City from challenging more seriously for the title.
With the new signings – not to mention the new manager – needing time to bed in, maybe this is the season that Kevin de Bruyne steps up to take control.
It’s not totally make-or-break for Raheem Sterling as he’s still very young, but after becoming the pariah for England’s horrific Euro 2016 campaign, the 2016/17 club campaign could be where he either solidifies or confounds his critics.
Under Pep Guardiola, pacey wingers like Pedro and Kingsley Coman have thrived in a system that looks to make the pitch as wide as possible.
With the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko and the possible arrival of Leroy Sane, Sterling’s place is under severe threat.