Why have Manchester City failed this season?

What has happened to Manchester City this season?

The Citizens started the season well, shadowing early pace-setters Chelsea in what looked to be a credible defence of their Premier League title.

Step forward into February and another rendezvous with Champions League nemesis Barcelona, and the picture becomes a little clearer.

Ever since City were bought by their Emirati owners there has been one major objective: To win the Champions League.

Big-name players such as Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez soon arrived at the Etihad Stadium in a bid to quench that thirst for the European Cup.

Yet City have struggled in Europe’s elite club competition, with only two appearances in the last 16 and suffering defeats to Barcelona both times – including this season.

A 2-1 home loss in February after a Luis Suarez double began a terrible run of form that has seen them lose five consecutive away games to Liverpool, Burnley, Barcelona, Crystal Palace and, worst of all, Manchester United.

During that time they have only picked up Premier League wins at home to lowly Leicester and West Brom.

Reading between the lines it seems that City’s players have effectively eased off the gas after it became clear their search for the Champions League trophy wasn’t going to end well.

Their demise would be easier to understand if they were miles behind in the league with nothing to play for, but they are the reigning champions and were second in the league before the home loss to Barcelona.

Players such as Toure have been very lacklustre this season in general, and a lack of vibrancy in their play has finally caught up with them.

Despite splashing £28m on Wilfried Bony during the January transfer window, the majority of City’s signings have failed to make an impression.

Eliaqium Mangala, the £32m central defender is the biggest disappointment so far, while Fernando (£12m) and Bacary Sagna (free) have also been ineffectual.

City’s best signing has been Frank Lampard who, with seven goals in 31 appearances this season, was a canny piece of business before he moves to New York City FC at the end of the campaign.

However, with Bony being City’s youngest signing at 26 years old there is a further problem with manager Manuel Pellegrini’s transfer policy.

A lack of new, young and exciting players has ultimately led to City’s current situation.

Their ageing team not only looks old it looks tired, it lacks pace and above all, it lacks enthusiasm.

Delving deeper into the statistics helps to flesh out the sorry detail for City fans.

City have the oldest squad in the Premier League this season, with the average age of their squad hitting 28.8 years old.

Compare this to their immediate rivals Manchester United (25.44 – 2nd youngest), Arsenal (26 – 5th youngest) and Chelsea (27.08 – 9th oldest) and it is difficult to see why City have not invested in emerging talent.

Perhaps they are pinning all their hopes on polishing up the next stars of the game from their £200m state-of-the-art training academy?

That seems unlikely, given the timescale involved.

They could easily have sprayed millions of pounds around on players like Marco Reus or Raheem Sterling, but they have chosen not to.

They have also elected to offload their existing youngsters on loan, with the likes of Scott Sinclair, John Guidetti and Karim Rekik all enjoying good spells at their respective new clubs.

Now, the time has come for Manuel Pellegrini to invest in fresh, energetic new players and ditch the deadwood such as Aleksandar Kolarov, Jesus Navas and Samir Nasri.

However, whether Manuel Pellegrini gets the chance to do so is another matter.

The trouble for City is that there are few world-class managers around to replace Pellegrini, yet with the funds made available and the promise of starting a new chapter there are many who would be tempted.

Who said money can’t buy happiness?

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The best and worst 2014/15 Premier League transfers

There’s something inspiring about signing a new player in a transfer window.

It might be the hope that this could finally be your club’s year to make it into Europe, or the excitement surrounding your new striker’s goalscoring record in some faraway league.

Whatever excites the fans in their own unique way, their opinion on new signings often boils down to “he’s dynamite”, or quite bluntly “he’s not fit to wear the shirt.”

The 2014 summer and 2015 winter transfer windows saw plenty of activity, with financial experts Deloitte reporting a record spend of £950m by Premier League clubs this season.

With the campaign rapidly coming to an end, the big question to ask is which signings have been savvy and which ones have been flops?

Here is my list of the top five best and worst transfers this season, starting as always with the best.

  1. Lukasz Fabianski – Swansea City – Goalkeeper – Free transfer from Arsenal

Having been overtaken in the Arsenal pecking order by Poland team-mate Wojciech Szczesny, it seemed logical for Fabianski to join Swansea, especially on a free transfer. He has responded with 11 clean sheets so far this term and a string of impressive displays with arguably only David de Gea and Thibault Courtois performing better this season.

  1. Ryan Bertrand – Southampton – Left-back – £10m from Chelsea

Ryan Bertrand is another young ex-Chelsea player who will probably return to bite Jose Mourinho in the backside. His form for Southampton this season was so good that the Saints quickly moved to turn Bertrand’s loan deal into a permanent one, spending £10m on a player who has provided a seamless replacement for Luke Shaw at left-back with two goals, three assists and 12 clean sheets. Bargain.

  1. Ander Herrera – Manchester United – Central midfielder – £28.4m from Athletic Bilbao

Herrera’s dynamic box-to-box performances have caught the eye of many this season, including transfer-banned Barcelona. Boss Louis van Gaal has afforded him a starting berth and each of Herrera’s five PL goals have come when he has started and finished a whole 90 minutes. Add to that his four assists with just seven full 90 minutes under his belt and you’d think United would play him more often.

  1. Diego Costa – Chelsea – Striker – £32m from Atletico Madrid

Sceptics scoffed at Costa’s price after a dismal World Cup and a history of hamstring injuries. However, a sustained period of early-season fitness has enabled Costa to bag 19 goals so far this season, but he has since suffered with a couple of hamstring setbacks and a suspension. His temper has also been tested by niggling centre-backs and a shocking stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can in January further fuelled his hot-headed reputation.

  1. Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal – Forward – £35m from Barcelona

When the chance to sign Sanchez arose, boss Arsenal Wenger jumped at the chance. The diminutive Chilean forward has lit up the Premier League this season with his pace, trickery and some sublime goals. In just over 2,300 minutes of PL football Sanchez has netted 14 goals and provided eight assists, but it is his work-rate which allies to his attacking play to make him a world-class player. By far the best signing of the campaign.

Onwards to the bad…

  1. Brown Ideye – West Brom – Striker – £10m from Dynamo Kiev

West Brom had tall hopes for the Nigerian striker after he scored 33 goals in 74 games. But, after being overshadowed by Saido Berahino at the Hawthorns, his woeful tally of four goals in 20 appearances fails to support The Baggies’ club-record transfer fee. Despite a difficult first season he could flourish under the direction of Tony Pulis next year.

  1. Federico Fazio – Spurs – Centre-back – £8m from Sevilla

Guilty of a string of high-profile errors, Fazio has endured a wretched opening season at White Hart Lane. Spurs have only kept three clean sheets with him in their line-up in 2014/15 and his movement, particularly on the turn, has been heavily criticised. Mauricio Pochettino will no doubt keep faith in the Argentine but he needs to improve quickly.

  1. Eliaquim Mangala – Manchester City – Centre-back – £32m from Porto

Manchester City won the race for the highly-coveted Frenchman in the summer, but he has failed to impress himself on a troubled City defence this season. His fee of £32m is the highest paid by a PL club for a defender, but Mangala has delivered inconsistent displays with some bordering on terrible.

  1. Angel di Maria – Manchester United – Winger – £59.7m from Real Madrid

Life in English football started so well for Angel di Maria. In his first six games he scored three goals and set up four more, but hasn’t found the net since October. The British transfer record signing has been severely affected by a break-in at his Cheshire home and, while he has started to show signs of recovering his early good form, a barren spell in the winter has led to criticism of his whopping fee.

  1. Radamel Falcao – Manchester United – Striker – £6m loan from Monaco

Once the most sought-after striker in the world, scoring goals for fun at Porto and Atletico Madrid, Falcao has truly flopped in the Premier League. He has failed to come to terms with aerial duels and rugged defenders and has ultimately failed to adjust to the style of English football. In sympathy for the Colombian joint-record goalscorer, his runs are not being picked out and he is tracking deeper just to touch the ball. However, his luck may change with Herrera, Michael Carrick and Juan Mata in midfield. Still, his four goals have been little reason to suggest that United will make his loan move permanent, especially when faced with a monstrous £43.6m fee.

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