When we last spoke I was asking you about the Pep Guardiola rumours and the next day he was appointed! I'm guessing you're all feeling pretty optimistic ahead of the new season with him at the helm?
Yeah, there's definitely a great feeling of confidence this summer with Pep at the club.
I can't pretend like we've noticed any changes in the players yet; it's been too early to know. But it's at least been refreshing to no longer have a sizeable portion of the fanbase campaign against the manager. That behavior disgusted me personally, and it's great to see everyone back in good spirits behind the manager again.
We all know Pep's managerial history; we're very excited to see what's in store.
Last season saw your best Champions League showing, do you expect that to further improve under Pep?
Over his tenure, definitely. For this season, I'm not sure I'd go there yet. Reaching the semi-finals again would be an achievement, but I'd more importantly like to see our play improve in the competition first. We played decently against PSG in the quarter-finals, but I don't think anyone thought we were up to par against Madrid in the semi-final. There's plenty of room for improvement there, and Pep should be allowed the time to make that happen.
Reaching the semi-final at the least should be a goal again this season, and getting to the quarter-final should be the minimum.
You've made some exciting & high profile transfers, including Leroy Sane, Nolito and Ike Gundogan. Are you happy with your business or is there more work to be done?
With John Stones arrival I think we're done, though personally I'm not quite one hundred percent satisfied yet. Pep got his targets, but I'm a bit surprised that a new fullback hasn't arrived. All four of Clichy, Kolarov, Sagna, and Zabaleta are over the age of 30, and neither flank was a burgeoning strength of last season. We do have one or two exciting youngsters in the pipeline in those positions, but they aren't ready yet.
Aside from that, I can't complain with the signings. Pep is Pep, and if he wants someone I have no problem with him securing that target. He's definitely earned the chance to set the team as he likes. I personally haven't been a huge fan of Stones, but again, Pep wants him. Gundogan is a fantastic signing that I love, and Sane is incredibly exciting as well. Admittedly I hadn't seen much of Nolito prior to the Euros. Pep's also signed two youngsters in young Colombian Marlos Moreno, and the gem of Gabriel Jesus. Both will be loaned out as they are too young for this season, but it's the type of foundation you like Pep to have.
Away from new signings, this seems like a big season for Raheem Sterling. After failing to show the form he had for Liverpool, last season and a disappointing Euros, he'll be desperate to prove some people wrong. Is that fair?
This does seem to be a bit of a make-or-break season for Sterling. He was average last season, and we don't want to see him continue to set that sort of precedent in playing for a top level team. There's worry that he could join Theo Walcott as a high-profile, young, English winger flame-out. Pep has made several comments publicly that support Sterling thus far so he'll be getting the proper guidance. It appears for now he is still in with a pretty good chance of being a starter on Saturday, so we'll see just what level of confidence Pep has in him from day one.
How do you see City lining up for the game?
Pep's preseason lineups have been all over the place, so I'll likely get a few wrong here. He even featured a starting CB combo of Kolarov and Fernando in our most recent match! I'll predict that he goes with Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, and Aguero. None of the new names, but it's possible that Nolito starts, and Delph has had a great preseason as well. His mobility is obviously an advantage over Yaya. I'm not sure that Sane has had enough training with the team yet to be considered, and certainly not Stones. Gundogan is still injured for a month or two more.
Out of those players, who will cause us the most problems?
It's tough to pick one player but I'll have to go with Aguero. We all know his talent when he's on his day. I'm looking for Silva to have a bit of a bounce back season so I'll be paying close attention to him, and I expect De Bruyne to continue his stellar play. Fernandinho should hopefully to be a rock in the middle as well. Beyond that, I'm not sure, given the lackluster play of last season.
Anyone in the Sunderland side you're particularly worried about?
Got to be Khazri. He was great for you guys last season, and is the type of attacking style that has caused our back line trouble in the past. Our aging legs in the back won't help when on the back foot. I do think we'll do a decent job of isolating whoever starts up top though, due to our possession based play and the fact that we'll be at home.
How do you see the game going?
I'm confident of a win, but think there will be some heavy lifting as the squad adjusts to Pep's style. Both sides should be up for this one with new managers and all, so I don't think it will be a boring game. I'll go with 2-0 to City.