Man City pre-season tour winners and losers – Charlotte Duncker
A false start after administration problems meant they arrived in Shanghai two days later than originally planned and Guardiola told reporters his players were just ‘surviving’ due to jet lag and fatigue.
Things may not have started off so well off the pitch but on the pitch City impressed as they prepare to head into the new season.
Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers from this summer’s tour.
Kevin de Bruyne
The biggest plus of the tour has to be De Bruyne. He was exceptional in all of his four performances and showed he is nearly back to his best following an injury-plagued last campaign which meant he only started 11 times in the league last season. The 28-year-old ran the show for City in the middle, securing three assists and scored a brilliant goal against Yokohama in the final game.
De Bruyne told reporters he took three weeks off during his summer break in a bid recharge his batteries and get fit for the new season and it looked like it worked. If he can maintain this form next season and remain fit he’d be like a new signing for Guardiola.
And it wasn’t just his performances he impressed with. City are looking for a new captain following the departure of Vincent Kompany and De Bruyne is a prime candidate to take over the armband after displaying his leadership skills both on and off the pitch. The Belgium represents the club impeccably and only David Silva will stand in the way of him receiving the armband on a permanent basis.
It’s clear to see why he was the most popular player with fans in every stadium City went to.
After scoring 31 goals for club and country last season Sterling is hoping to improve on that this season and if pre-season is anything to go by he shouldn’t be far off matching it. The England international’s first appearance of the tour was as a second half substitute in the opening win against West Ham and his display set the tone for the rest of the tour.
Scoring moments after coming on, he looked fresh and ready to push on. He finished the tour on four goals and should have had more after missing a penalty in the goalless draw to Wolves in Shanghai.
The England international is clearly committed to making a good impression off the pitch too. He spent his day off in Hong Kong taking part in his own commercial activities and spoke at length with the media about how is planning to improve on last season’s impressive display.
Guardiola started the tour by telling reporters the young players he had brought along as part of the travelling party were only there because he had a lack of other options due to international competitions. Not what they would want to hear.
However, they became one of the biggest positives of the tour. Centre back Taylor Harwood-Bellis and midfielder Tommy Doyle impressed the most and were handed additional game-time having shown their credentials in the opening game against West Ham.
Iker Pozo, Adrian Bernabe and Ian Poveda all looked comfortable among the first team set up too and have all given Guardiola food for thought ahead of the new season when it comes to rotating his squad once all four competitions have kicked in.
There was some vague hope going into the tour that a new Sane contract would be announced. It didn’t happen. In fact the situation hasn’t improved at all. Guardiola made it clear the club want to keep the Germany international but only if he wants to stay. They’re not going to prevent him from moving to Bayern Munich if that’s what he wants to do.
The Bundesliga giants continue to try and lure the winger to the club but time is running out for both clubs to reach an agreement. After impressing in the opening game when he came on as a second half substitute he didn’t really shine in the following three games. He took his second goal against Kitchee well but wasn’t a standout performer.
If he wants to become a star of the team he’ll have to take Guardiola‘s advice to improve.
Arrived back at the club this summer just a year after the club sold him to PSV Eindhoven in a surprise move. Guardiola isn’t set on his first choice left back with Aleks Zinchenko, Benjamin Mendy and now Angelino all vying for the spot.
The 22-year-old told reporters he wants to make the position his own but he did little on this tour to prove he could take it. Nervy, rusty and less convincing than Zinchenko. The Ukrainian will now fancy his chances as first choice left-back and Angelino, based on this showing, will have a fight on his hands to get into the starting XI each week.
City’s presence in Asia hardly made waves and although it’s preferred they don’t return to China next summer they’ll have to come back soon if they’re to make the brand bigger over there. The open training session in Shanghai was attended by a small number of fans and while the numbers increased in Hong Kong and Japan there was little hysteria that the club were there.
A commercial event in Shanghai was attended by hundreds rather than thousands and Guardiola admitted in his press conference they don’t have the same appeal as the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid who have had years to crack the market.
It’s getting bigger but they’re still not where they want to be.