The Manchester City players are back in England after their two-week tour of the US that saw them take in friendly matches against Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham. Club journalist Rob Pollard has looked back over the fortnight and highlighted five talking points.
There can be few doubts City’s performance level improved significantly as the tour of the US progressed.
They began with a somewhat laboured display against United, a game which highlighted City’s lack of match sharpness. United had already played two pre-season games in the US before the first Manchester derby on foreign soil and their superior fitness told.
But City were far better six days later against Real Madrid in LA. After some intensive training sessions under the watchful eye of Pep Guardiola, they defeated the La Liga giants 4-1 in front of more than 90,000 people. All four goals were scored in 30 second-half minutes, a period in which City completely took Madrid apart.
But they saved their best display for last. The 3-0 win over Tottenham in Nashville saw City produce 90 minutes of high-tempo, quick-passing football that overwhelmed their Premier League rivals.
They scored three fine goals – it could have been far more but for some excellent goalkeeping from Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm – and were in total control throughout.
They moved the ball quickly and with purpose, and looked to have pace and guile in the right areas.
It’s only pre-season and the real stuff begins in less than two weeks’ time when City travel to Brighton – but this was a very encouraging performance.
City played three at the back against Real Madrid and Tottenham, a tactical shift that worked superbly.
It gave City an additional body in midfield and in both matches they dominated possession and controlled the tempo.
Guardiola said after the Spurs game that he won’t use the same system each week, preferring instead to tailor his selections depending on the opposition.
City look to have used their time in the US well, with a new formation, only tried fleetingly last season, now very much an option when the season kicks off on August 12.
It can’t have been easy for Kyle Walker to have integrated himself into the City squad during a pre-season tour, but he certainly looks to have settled quickly.
And the pace and energy he added to City’s right-hand side bodes well for the new season.
Against Tottenham he delivered a fine display full of energy and attacking intent, with his former teammates struggling to contain his surging runs.
With fellow new signing Danilo bringing similar qualities to the left, they look set to bring a new dynamic to City’s play.
The tour not only improved fitness levels and offered an opportunity to try out new formations, it also game some of City’s most talented youngsters a chance to shine, and all of them took their opportunity confidently.
Overall, the tour was a huge success. City played three competitive matches in wonderful stadiums, with fans in America given a rare opportunity to see the Blues players in the flesh. The team now look prepared for the new season and a number of the summer signings have shown they can adapt quickly to Guardiola’s demands.
It’s been a fruitful two weeks Stateside.