Roberto Mancini is ready to crank up the work rate for his team as the Community Shield clash with Chelsea looms into view.
The City chief has his full squad of players assembled at Carrington for the first time since the dramatic title win in May.
And after a training camp in Austria, a tour of Asia and trips to Germany and Ireland, he can’t wait to get stuck into his charges as they bid to successfully defend their crown.
“We will start to work together, the whole team together as we prepare for the season ahead,” the boss declared.
The pre-season has been important for us as the players get warmed up again, but we will now begin to work very hard.
A number of players who competed in Euro 2012 were granted extended leave this summer and as a result Mancini was forced to run two pre-season programmes, meaning many of the first team players have not played together since the end of last season.
“For us it was important that the players play in the European Championship, but they needed a month to recover because last season was very hard and this season will be very long,” stressed Mancini.
Those who returned to Carrington after the Euros didn’t join the tour of the Far East or (with the exception of Joe Hart) didn’t play in the match against Wolfsburg. However, they recently took part in friendlies against Oldham and Limerick.
“The games against Oldham and Limerick were very important, but I think we need another three or four weeks for these players to get back to full fitness,” Mancini warned. “We will all need to work very hard at Carrington.”
The manager admitted that having to split his squad for pre-season was not easy, but he was pleased that it afforded him an opportunity to give the younger players a run out.
“They are good players, but very young. Sometimes it’s good that they can play with the senior members of the squad because it helps them improve. We have a lot of young players, so it will be interesting for the future of the club,” he said.
Mancini has also used the off season to experiment with a different formation, deploying a 3-5-2 or as some see it, a 3-2-3-2 line-up.
“In pre-season it’s important that we try different situations. When you are a top team it’s crucial to change your shape and try different ways of playing,” he said.
“For the players it’s very important that they get used to working with different players and now that we are all back together, this will be very important.”
Mancini has injury questions surrounding skipper Vincent Kompany (calf), midfielder Gareth Barry (abdominal) and defender Micah Richards (shoulder) ahead of the game with Chelsea at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.