@markbooth_mcfc rounds up all of the topics for discussion following our 38th Barclays Premier League assignment…
1 Job Done
“If you class the job being done for finishing fourth then we did what we had to - but we know we’ve let ourselves down in the league this season.”
Joe Hart gave his typically candid verdict after City closed out the draw at Swansea which all but guaranteed passage into the UEFA Champions League play-off round.
Following a flying start from the away side, they faded following Andre Ayew’s deflected free-kick on the stroke of half-time and were unable to break down a stubborn Swansea resistance after the break.
It was a slightly flat end to a season with plenty of highs and causes for optimism in the future, as well as a number of areas for improvement.
That said, following last week’s draw with Arsenal which took Champions League qualification out of our hands for the first time this season, supporters would have taken a fourth place finish seven days later, no matter how it came.
Cheers, West Ham.
2 The £8.3bn question
Leicester City went on to win the Premier League title by ten points, losing just three games.
Make no mistake, the Foxes won this title rather than any of the traditional powers losing it.
City were far from alone in accumulating fewer points than their previous season’s tally, suggesting that the Premier League was even more competitive and unpredictable than ever before in 2015/16.
This trend looks set to continue in 2016/17 when the new TV deal, worth an estimated £8.3 billion, kicks in, as some of the league’s traditionally middleweight club will have their Chairmen dreaming of “doing a Leicester”.
For this reason, it’s a fascinating summer in prospect with the bargaining powers of all 20 teams in the league at an all-time high and so the £8.3bn question: will Leicester prove to be a one-time footballing miracle for the ages or are we entering an era in English football where any team can genuinely put up a title challenge?
3 The Kid
Kelechi Iheanacho has enjoyed more effective days in a City shirt in his breakthrough season but it speaks volumes for his meteoric ascent that he was still the man who made the difference on the final day.
The Nigerian starlet’s eighth Premier League goal of the season, his fifth in four games, came from his 12th shot on target in the league this season – a quite remarkable strike rate at whatever stage of a career you’re at.
Pellegrini spoke in glowing terms of the 19-year old after the game, stating his belief that City have a future superstar on their hands.
He said: “A player of 19-years-old who scores so many goals and not playing all the games, I think has a brilliant future. I think all the fans of City will be delighted with him in the next years."
That’s one of those afore-mentioned “reasons to be excited for the future” right there.
4 End of an era
In his own words, the final year of Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure was “a good season – not a very, very good season, but a good season.”
When you’ve come from where we’ve come from, any season where you’ve won a trophy at Wembley and reached the last four of Europe’s premier club competition can’t be sniffed at, despite the fact that we fell short of our objectives in the league this season.
Manuel leaves the Club with the best win percentage of any manager to have managed more than 30 games for City, achieving a record of P167, W101, D27, L39.
That’s the best record of any Premier League manager in Pellegrini’s time at the Etihad Stadium and only Joe Mercer has lifted more trophies for City than the Chilean.
Never a man to resort to cheap, facile “mind games” tactics in the press or to lose his temper on the sidelines, Manuel set the emotional tone of the team throughout his three years and has played a decisive role in cementing City’s status at the top table of English football.
5 The Summer
There are 89 days, or 12 weeks and five days, until the 2016/17 Premier League campaign kicks off.
Between now and then, there’s Euro 2016, Copa America and our summer tour to China to enjoy, as well as a number of exciting developments both on and off the pitch – some you know about, some you don’t… yet!
Hang on to your hats… it’s about to get very exciting indeed.