Manchester City 2019/20 season review: A disappointing title defence

OneFootball

Dan Burke

Article image: Manchester City 2019/20 season review: A disappointing title defence

It wasn’t a terrible season from Manchester City, but it wasn’t great either.

Pep Guardiola’s side finished 18 points behind Liverpool in the unsuccessful defence of their title, but Champions League glory could still salvage the campaign.

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Here’s what we made of it …


Player of the season: Kevin De Bruyne

This is an easy one.

After missing much of the 2018/19 season with injury, De Bruyne was firing on all cylinders again this year.

The Belgian finished the season with 13 Premier League goals and 20 assists – matching Thierry Henry’s all-time record.

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He is unquestionably the best midfielder in the world at the moment and probably behind only Lionel Messi in the greatest player stakes.

It will be a shame if the season he’s had isn’t rewarded with some kind of individual award but with David Silva leaving, De Bruyne seems like the obvious choice to become City’s next club captain.


Rising star: Eric Garcia

Given he’s been involved with the first team for three seasons now, it feels like Phil Foden’s time as a rising star is now over and the 20-year-old is now part of the Etihad Stadium furniture.

So 2019/20 will perhaps be best remembered as the year Eric Garcia truly made the step up to the next level.

The Spaniard made 13 Premier League appearances in all and barely put a foot wrong in any of them.

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His extreme comfort on the ball makes him ideal for Guardiola’s system and his maturity beyond his years means he isn’t afraid to boss his more senior team-mates around.

There was even a story earlier in the season that Garcia is already taking his coaching badges, and he’s only 19!

If he can work on his positional sense, and if City can keep him out of the clutches of Barcelona, he has the potential to be a future star for club and country.


Flop of the season: João Cancelo

It’s fair to say neither of City’s summer signings took Guardiola’s team to the next level this year.

Rodri appeared to have adapted to his new surroundings frighteningly quickly but as the season wore on, the former Atlético Madrid midfielder showed signs of teething trouble.

And then there was Cancelo, who arrived for big money from Juventus last summer but failed to properly compete with Kyle Walker for the right-back berth and was regularly left out of the match-day squad.

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However, after performing well at left-back in a couple of games towards the end of the season, there is hope that the Portuguese could still have a promising future in Manchester.

“With his happiness in the training sessions, he is going to help us a lot in the next seasons. He understands us better than the beginning and we understand him better,” said Guardiola earlier this month.

“Sometimes you need time and now he is happy. he is an incredible communicator; we are delighted in the last few months what he is doing with us.”


Rate the manager

It wasn’t all bad news for Guardiola this season.

City finished with 102 goals scored in the Premier League (17 more than champions Liverpool) and the most clean sheets in the league.

And of course, they also added another trophy to Guardiola’s extensive collection with the Carabao Cup.

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But they also lost nine league games and had effectively relinquished their league title before the turn of the year.

City were weak defensively, often missed bagfuls of chances in the games they lost, and Guardiola’s game management and substitutions often left onlookers scratching their heads.

None of City’s problems are unsolvable but when you’re up against a team as relentless as Liverpool were in 2019/20, you cannot afford to drop so many silly points.


What comes next?

City will be hoping to give club legend David Silva the send-off he deserves by winning the Champions League next month.

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But whether they have what it takes to finish the job in their last 16 second leg with Real Madrid remains to be seen.

Either way, the positive outcome of their CAS appeal against UEFA’s two-year European ban means City are likely to spend big in the transfer market this summer, with at least one new central defender and a new wide forward on their shopping list.

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If they can strengthen the weak points in their squad they will be a force to be reckoned with again in 2020/21, but Guardiola perhaps needs to go back to the drawing board with some of his tactics during the short summer break.


Rating the season: 5/10

Not bad, not brilliant … so far.