The World Cup is at a end and Manchester City are about to begin the second half of a season like no other. For myself and no doubt City fans everywhere, the sense of optimism is high for what comes post the World Cup, so let’s look ahead to what comes next.
As for the World Cup, national allegiances aside I feel Manchester City got out of the World Cup with the best result possible for us to begin the second half of the season with most if not all of our players available.
With Belgium & Germany failing to get out of the group stage, it gave much needed rest for Kevin De Bruyne & Ilkay Gundogan, especially at their age. Whilst no doubt the two would be disappointed with how their nations performed but the positive for City is they both got some well needed rest, which will come in handy later in the season.
Spain going out in the second round returned Rodri & Aymeric Laporte earlier then expected which is great news for City, especially for Rodri with the workload he carries during the season. Manuel Akanji also returned.
Then the Quarter Finals happened with our English & Portugese contingent all returning home in time for the Leeds game in the Premier League at worst.
Kyle Walker getting some games into his legs is only a positive as we missed him badly, in my opinion, in the lead up to the World Cup. Kalvin Phillips also got some minutes in, not a lot but enough to suggest he’s fit and ready to help out and show how good he really is.
Phil Foden was finally trusted by Southgate later in the group stages, and the knockout stage, showing what we all know he’s capable of. I expect Phil to take the next step in the second half of the season. John Stones had a fantastic World Cup for England, he’d have to have been one of the best defenders through our the tournament, so he returns to City in form, and ready to press for a consistent first team place.
Ederson returned having only played one game for Brazil, so he should be raring to go.
The major positive at the World Cup for City has been Julian Alvarez, who has starred for Argentina in their run to the final, alongside Messi, before bringing the golden trophy back to Buenos Aires. The experience for Alvarez will be huge in his development and he could be a serious asset for the rest of this season and beyond. A true superstar in the making, and a bargain signing at £14 million.
The City players that didn’t appear at the World Cup will all be well rested for what comes.
Erling Haaland has stated he’s raring to go after his break, and the niggling injury he picked up prior to the World Cup break should be all healed. With 23 goals in 18 appearances a well rested Haaland should strike fear into the rest of the league and Europe. A sight I can’t wait to see when City return in the Carabao Cup against Liverpool on the 23rd of December.
Riyad Mahrez has had a good rest also, he looked good in the Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea before the break to be returning to form after a slow start to the season, a fit and firing Mahrez is needed with what comes until May.
The big Manchester City news over the World Cup break was the news of Pep Guardiola’s contract extension. A huge coup for the club, with Pep being the man that moulds all that we do. A exciting time awaits with another 2 and a half seasons to come under Pep Guardiola. I personally can’t wait for what comes under Pep, I’m sure that’s also felt by City fans everywhere.
There is also a transfer saga developing worth watching leading into the summer involving Jude Bellingham. Most reports have him signing at either Liverpool or Real Madrid as with most major players they get the Madrid link, but my gut feeling is he’s City bound and for me it’s playing out exactly as the Haaland signing did. Something worth keeping a eye on over the rest of the season is Jude’s form for Dortmund, and his next destination.
There also was a Joško Gvardiol link late last week, mentioning City buying him in January and loaning him back to RB Leipzig for the remainder of the season. Another story possibly to keep a eye on there, not a expected signing in my opinion, just another to keep a eye on.
Bring on Liverpool on the 23rd of December and what comes over the festive period and for the rest of the season. Another Premier League title tilt for three consecutive Premier League titles awaits and the cup journeys ahead. Also a exciting tie against RB Leipzig in the Champions League to come, I for one can’t wait for the rest of the journey ahead.
About time Manchester City is back, the wait has been to long, though filled with a great World Cup the past month.