Such is the nature of football or even sport in general that any team enjoying complete domination over their rivals, often begins with a period of appreciation from fans, but often ends with a feeling of boredom.
Such was Manchester City’s superiority over almost every team in the English top flight on their way to a record breaking Premier League title triumph last season that watching them brush teams aside almost became mundane.
That’s not to say most of us didn’t appreciate the brilliance of Pep Guardiola’s star studded side, it was more down to the fact that football and any other other sport for that matter is a much more enjoyable viewing experience when the outcome of the event is a close run thing.
For this reason many neutrals would have hoped that City would have maybe taken their foot off the gas slightly or even suffered a little from the effects of many of their star players arriving back to pre-season training late, meaning they would start this season a little slowly and a least contribute to a bit of drama going on at the summit of Premier League.
However, after dispatching two of the so called top six; beating Chelsea 3-0 in the Community Shield and Arsenal 2-0 in their opening Premier League game, it looks as if Guardiola’s side may be even stronger than it was during their record breaking performance last term.
City, like many other top clubs, have been without several of their key men for the start of this season, but on first impressions many of their second string have either improved massively from last campaign or are so engrained in playing the Guardiola way that their supreme level of performance is not actually even effected that much by personnel changes.
Although City were understandably not fully at their best during their opening two games, they still managed to play some breathtaking attacking football, while barely conceding a chance at the other end – except maybe for period in the second-half against Arsenal when they lost focus slightly.
Arguably the Citizens best player over the course of these two fixtures, has been Portugal international Bernardo Silva, who’s superb showings have meant that Kevin De Bruyne’s and David Silva’s absences have barely been noticeable. Last season the £43.5 million signing from Monaco actually featured in 63 games for City, more than any other player, although it was clear he was never really threatening a place in Guardiola’s starting XI. However, if the opening two games of this campaign are anything to go by the 24-year-old midfielder is ready to stake his claim this season, and City have already found a long term replacement for the mercurial Silva.
At the back the absence of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi has also barley been felt. £57 million January signing Aymeric Laporte has looked a formidable presence both defensively and in possession, while John Stones is still riding the wave of his ”coming of age,’’ summer with England at the World Cup.
Another really obvious area in which this City side look considerably stronger than last season in is at left-back, with Benjamin Mendy’s pace and directness giving Guardiola’s side a whole new dimension on the left flank. Fabian Delph deputised well for the France international last season after his serious knee injury, but having Mendy back is almost like a new signing for the Champions.
All of these encouraging signs obviously do not even mention the established brilliance of stars like Silva, Walker, Ederson, Sane, De Bruyne and Aguero to name but a few, who will all be hungry to enjoy more success with the Blue half of Manchester.
Many of us questioned whether City would be able to deal with the absence of some of these established players, during the dominating days of the last campaign, although it now seems that these questions have been answered somewhat during the opening two games.
Guardiola has not just got a brilliant first-choice XI, but a squad of top class players that can rotate easily without any real drop off in performance levels.
For neutrals, be afraid, be very afraid, because this could be a another boring title race in the English top flight. For City’s top six rivals, be afraid, be very afraid, Pep Guardiola’s side may just be about to enjoy a period of dominance in the Premier League that has not been seen since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson.