Pellegrini seeks to stretch Manchester City’s good moment

Club confirms signing of De Bruyne from Wolfsburg for €71m six-year deal

Raheem Sterling scores the first goal for Manchester City vs Watford. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Raheem Sterling scores the first goal for Manchester City vs Watford. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

 

The sign of the rosy times at Manchester City came when manager Manuel Pellegrini reflected on a maximum 12 points, no goals conceded and 10 scored in the opening four matches. “For a dead man walking, not bad,” he said.

Delivering this with a grin, the Chilean was referring to his apparent state after his side’s decline in the second half of last season. The champions were joint top with Chelsea on New Year’s Day, but their title bid folded miserably and time seemed to be ticking down on Pellegrini’s tenure.

On April 12th, City were given an unwonted schooling by Manchester United in a 4-2 derby defeat at Old Trafford. After this, Pellegrini’s men rallied impressively. They won their closing six matches to finish second, and have begun this season with four victories, making it 10 league wins on the bounce, breaking a club record that had stood since 1912.

Second Captains

Instant success

Raheem SterlingWatfordNicolas OtamendiFabian DelphPatrick RobertsKevin De Bruyne

When they had the ball, Watford showed they can ping it around. The problem is that City tend to reclaim and retain it far better than any opposition. Sterling’s strike came on 47 minutes, Fernandinho’s before the hour. Each derived from the silky play that is making City unstoppable.

International break

“I had meetings with a lot of players [in the summer] and I think they are the first to criticise themselves because they know how they can play. I’m sure none of them – not only the players who were more criticised last season, like Vincent, Fernandinho, Yaya – all the players know that they weren’t in their best performance. And that’s why it was important to try and start the season trying to give another face, show another attitude.”

The manager is cautious regarding whether the City juggernaut can continue to thunder on. “It’s what I hope,” he said. “But football changes so easy, so you cannot know what will happen in the next month . . . But it’s important to understand we are on the correct way and we must take it game by game.” Guardian Service

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