Deliver, or else...

Deliver, or else...
TIME TO PERFORM: City boss Manuel Pellegrini needs to order his players to up their game if he is to keep his job.
PHOTO: Reuters

He has just signed a two-year extension with Manchester City, but Manuel Pellegrini knows that doesn't guarantee him a stay of execution.

Following last season's disappointment, the Chilean is on very shaky ground.

A runners-up spot was scant consolation for finishing eight points behind Chelsea.

Patience is never a virtue with the City owners so the 61-year-old needs to prove himself all over again.

This time round, most of his chips are placed on Raheem Sterling, his marquee £49 million ($105.2m) capture from Liverpool.

In the exciting winger-cum-forward, he dreams of finding the creative spark that will nudge the City train back on track.

In his other notable signing, Fabian Delph for £8m, he hopes to add some depth to a central midfield that struggled for consistency last season.

But Pellegrini needs them to settle in quickly.

Last season, Fernando, Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony were signed for a combined fee of almost £70m but failed to impress. And there is also the issue of an ageing squad which have yet to be fully addressed.

The arrivals of Sterling and Delph, 20 and 25 respectively, will help to inject some youth into the squad, but that is provided that they adapt well and get to play regularly.

Considering that the average age of their starting 11 last season was close to 29, one wonders if enough was being done to lift the side that looked their age last term.

Success may well hinge on how much Pellegrini can coax out of his established stars.

City still possess a formidable roster, on paper at least.

Sergio Aguero remains his main man.

Because of injury, the Argentinian made 30 starts out of a possible 38 in the previous season, but still won the Premiership Golden Boot (26 league goals) and emerged as the club's top assist-maker (eight).

Without a doubt, he will be charged with leading the Citizens to their third league title in five years.

With Stefan Jovetic off to Inter Milan and Edin Dzeko set for a move to Roma, the goal-scoring burden now falls squarely on Aguero's shoulders.

Skipper Vincent Kompany had a poor season by his standards. Getting him back to his best will be key to improving a fragile defence.

Midfielder Yaya Toure, who looked sluggish and unmotivated on so many occasions last term, must step up to the plate.

Most importantly, Pellegrini must also re-instil belief into a side that withered on the big occasions.

Last season, they managed only one victory against the top-four teams - 1-0 against Manchester United.

With United and Arsenal looking stronger this season, the title race may no longer be a straightforward battle with Chelsea.

Indeed, winning the Premiership appears a significantly tougher assignment than it was 12 months ago.

But City's owners won't take that into consideration if they decide to browse through Pellegrini's file.

If he shows the slightest hint of not being up to the task, he will be the first to be shown the door.

FAST FACTS

Founded: 1880

Nickname: The Citizens

Ground: Etihad Stadium

Capacity: 47,405

Owner: City Football Group

Chairman: Khaldoon Al Mubarak

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Notable honours:

Div 1/Premier League: Champions (4 times)

FA Cup: Champions (5 times) League Cup: Champions (3 times)

Uefa Cup Winners' Cup: Champions (1 time)

PLAYERS IN

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) - £49m

Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) - £8m

Patrick Roberts (Fulham) - £12m

PLAYERS OUT

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) - £1.5m

John Guidetti (Celta Vigo) - free

James Milner (Liverpool) - free

Matija Nastasic (Schalke) - undisclosed

Scott Sinclair (Aston Villa) - £2.5m

Stevan Jovetic (Inter Milan) - undisclosed

Micah Richards (Aston Villa) - free

garylim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 9, 2015.
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