Manchester City in 2020: one step back, two steps forward?

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It has not been an easy year for Manchester City. After winning back-to-back Premier League titles with a record-breaking point total, they suffered a major drop, finishing 18 points behind champion Liverpool.

This was compounded by another Champions League quarter-final exit, with the Carabao Cup acting as a sort of consolation prize for Pep Guardiola’s men.

Best Player – Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne became the second player to record 20 assists in a Premier League season

David Silva left, Sergio Agüero has had injury problems, Raheem Sterling has been inconsistent, Bernardo Silva has fallen. However, one man who has not dropped his standards in 2020 is Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian playmaker became the second player to record 20 assists in a single Premier League season, after Thierry Henry in 2002/03. As a result, he received the PFA Premier League Player of the Year award, becoming the first Manchester City player to win the award.

Best Game – Man City 4-0 Liverpool

113218582 city
Man City edged out the champions at Etihad

A week earlier, Liverpool had won the title after the Cityzens fell to defeat at Stamford Bridge. This meant that the home team had to give their opponents an honor guard when they met in July.

Fortunately for Man City, that’s where the jokes ended. Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Raheem Sterling made two against his former club. Young Phil Foden scored another shortly before halftime, ensuring the hosts went into the break 3-0 up. A second own half goal by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the run.

In truth, the result did not mean much. After all, Jurgen Klopp’s team had already won the league. However, it would have been nice to put a bit of a brake on their celebrations. The game also helped prevent Liverpool from breaking City’s record of 100 points.

Worst game – Man City 1-3 Lyon

113955896 demblee
Dembélé scores his first and Lyon’s second to knock out City

While they have won everything there is to win domestically, Man City have struggled notoriously in Europe, reaching just a semi-final of the Champions League. After defeating Real Madrid in the round of 16, they entered their quarter-final tie against Lyon as big favorites.

The game did not turn out as expected. Maxwel Cornet put the French team 1-0 up, but De Bruyne struck back in the second half to even the score.

However, Lyon was unfazed and regained the lead thanks to forward Moussa Dembele. After Sterling squandered a golden opportunity to even things out in the end, former Celtic striker Dembele sealed Lyon’s place in the semi-finals after a mistake by goalkeeper Ederson.

Transfer business

Dias is off to an impressive start in England

Pretty solid, all things considered.

It was a quiet January for Man City, but they soon reopened their wallets a few months later.

Ruben Dias was his star signing of the summer, coming in for roughly £ 65 million. If your start-of-season form is something to go by then it should be a successful purchase. Ferran Torres is another who appears to be a bargain at £ 20 million, having looked good in his early months.

However, Nathan Ake has yet to justify his price, and early indications suggest he will be a backup option for the Cityzens. It’s a solid backup option, to be sure, but one wonders if £ 41 million for a third option is a good deal.

In terms of spending, Leroy Sane and David Silva were the biggest names to leave the Etihad this year. Silva’s time had come, and Sane wanted to leave, so letting them go was probably the right decision. However, they will wonder if they have been properly replaced.

How has the manager been?

Guardiola 2
Guardiola has had a disappointing year

He may be one of the most decorated coaches of modern times, but 2020 was a bad year by Pep Guardiola’s standards.

Finishing 18 points from the title will have hurt the former Barcelona manager, and the Carabao Cup win will not have helped ease the pain. Furthermore, the new season has not started as he would have hoped, winning only 50% of his league games since the first 14. For a coach with so much talent at his disposal, that is simply not good enough.

The big games have also been disappointing. Man City faced Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals and Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals. Despite going to both games as favorites, they lost both.

If this continues, then Guardiola’s time at the Etihad could be coming to an end.

General consensus

It has been a big step back for Man City.

The Carabao Cup is positive, but the club will certainly be looking for more in 2021. It no longer looks like the giant it was in the previous two seasons, and it continues to underperform in Europe.

Yet despite their somewhat average start to the 2020/21 season, they are seven points behind first place with two games in hand. If they can get back to their best, then there will certainly be a title charge.

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