2022/23 will be forever etched into the history books in the blue side of Manchester. After more than a decade of domestic domination, Manchester City laid their hands on the trophy that had eluded them since their inception – stripping their cross-city rivals of the bragging rights as they too completed the treble, further establishing Manchester’s status as the home of English football.
But with Pep Guardiola admitting that replicating last season’s success would be ‘impossible’, is the Spaniard attempting to bluff his domestic and continental opponents – or does he truly fear that City will suffer an inevitable decline throughout the 2023/24 campaign?
Manchester. London. İstanbul.
Manchester City may have lifted the treble last season, but their league campaign was far from a comfortable one. With Arsenal establishing themselves as serious contenders for the Premier League title, the Gunners spent a staggering 248 days at the top of the table – but a late slip in form allowed Pep Guardiola’s side to clinch the silverware once more, following Arsenal’s loss to Nottingham Forest.
With the league title wrapped up for the third consecutive year, attention then turned to the FA Cup. A clash at Wembley against Manchester United given the context of the season seemed to be something straight from a Hollywood script – and the Citizens edged one step closer to their record-breaking treble with a stunning win under the arch.
And with attention turning to their winner-takes-all clash at the Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadyumu in İstanbul, Liverpool’s success on that very turf eighteen years prior would certainly play on the minds of the Manchester City faithful. In a chaotic final on 10 June 2023, it was a simply sublime strike from Rodri that handed the Citizens the win, the one trophy missing from their stunning treble, and the bragging rights in Manchester.
Who’s arrived at the Etihad Campus this summer?
Mateo Kovacic confirmed his move to Manchester City at the beginning of the summer transfer window, leaving Chelsea after five years in West London. The transfer fee involved reportedly totals £25m.
Josko Gvardiol is the latest addition to Pep Guardiola’s defence, with the talented Croatian youngster departing RB Leipzig. City have certainly splashed the cash on the centre-back after an impressive performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the move worth almost £80m.
Who’s left for pastures new?
Riyad Mahrez is one of dozens of players swapping their traditional top teams for the seemingly limitless money on offer in Saudi Arabia. Having been a shrewd buy for Leicester City ahead of their shock Premier League win, the winger moved to Manchester in 2018 – but has now completed a transfer to Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.
Ilkay Gündogan has swapped East Manchester for Southern Spain, completing a free transfer move to Barcelona upon the expiration of his City contract. The German provided some crucial moments for the Citizens last term, and will be a notable loss for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Benjamin Mendy also leaves Manchester City after spending plenty of time on the sidelines, after a legal battle saw him withdrawn from first-team activities. He’s headed out to Lorient, hoping to reignite what was a promising career.
What did we learn from preseason?
Manchester City’s preseason campaign has been relatively short, getting underway on July 23 with a 5-3 win over Yokohama F Marinos. They then went on to record another victory against Guardiola’s former employers, Bayern Munich.
But the Citizens have been forced to taste defeat in their two most recent fixtures, with defeat against Atletico Madrid followed swiftly by a shootout loss to Arsenal in the 2023 Community Shield. With the UEFA Super Cup just around the corner for Manchester City, Pep Guardiola will want his side finding form against Burnley before another European clash.
What’s realistic for the Citizens in 2023/24?
Anything less than another league title would be a colossal disappointment for Manchester City. Of course, their rivals have strengthened their squads too – but Pep Guardiola has a team of world-beaters, and a bench capable of pushing for European football by itself.
Perhaps the Spaniard is right when he says that another treble-winning season would be ‘impossible’, but Manchester City should also be able to reach the latter stages of the Champions League – and picking up a domestic cup along the way would be beneficial.