Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has issued a rallying cry ahead of his team’s pre-season tour, stating the club need to win the Premier League trophy back.
City’s July 20-August 4 tour includes just four games, yet unlike their cross town rivals Manchester United all their fixtures are against high-level opposition.
Speaking after the team’s first training session since arriving in the USA, Sterling said he was looking forward to City’s US tour which includes the first ever overseas Manchester derby.
“We’ve made sure we put the work in during the off period – our runs and our exercises – to come back ready for pre-season and we’ve been working hard all last week,” Sterling told City’s website.
“We want to be firing from the first minute. Pre-season will be tough but we’re really looking forward to it, especially playing Man United in the States.”
This will be Sterling’s third season at City and the 22-year-old has already scored 22 times in 94 starts but he was eager to focus on the team’s needs rather than his own.
“It’s not about me next year, it’s about the team. We need to be winning trophies, we need to be getting that Premier League title back.
“For me, that’s the most important thing for next year – to be the best team in England and we’ve already made some fantastic signings this summer that will only strengthen an already strong squad.”
City’s pre-season starts off with the United derby on July 20, where both teams will wear the Manchester worker bee emblem on their shirts in tribute to those killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack in May.
With the clubs not due to meet in the Premier League until December, the showdown at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, will give an early indication on how far Pep Guardiola’s squad are from being at full readiness for the start of next season.
With both clubs already investing heavily so far this transfer window as well as significant squad players having departed the Citizens, Guardiola’s tactical approach and line up will be worth noting.
Off we go with the yorkshire boys pic.twitter.com/K20GesfGEe
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) July 17, 2017
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 17, 2017
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 17, 2017
Six days later City face European champions Real Madrid in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California.
With Guardiola keen to compete more successfully on all fronts this year, a strong pre-season performance against Madrid will provide encouraging signs for City who will be aiming to potentially knock Madrid off their perch.
The match also carries further interest: with Real manager Zinedine Zidane touted as Madrid’s answer to Guardiola from his time and success at Barcelona, the game will no doubt see just how fitting that description really is.
The advantage might be in City’s favour though, as the Sky Blues will have had a longer break since their last match whilst Madrid will have only played United three days before they take on City.
More familiar opposition, in the shape of Tottenham Hotspur, await on July 29 at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennesse.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has so far had little activity in the transfer market and the Spurs squad will likely be fully rested. Tottenham’s squad though has seen only one major change, that being the loss of Kyle Walker to the Sky Blues for £50 million.
How Tottenham will have adjusted since his departure and how his potential replacement will have settled into Pochettino’s regime will be the key for giving City a better understanding of how this title rival team could set themselves up for the forthcoming season.
Last season, City didn’t manage to beat Tottenham, losing 2-0 at White Hart Lane and drawing 2-2 at the Etihad so a win in this match would provide a major confidence boost before City host Spurs on December 16.
The final pre-season match before the Citizens’ season opener away to Brighton on August 12 is against West Ham on August 4 at the Laugardalsvollur Stadium in Reykjavik, Iceland.
As the supposed easiest of the pre-season games, City should potentially use this game as an opportunity for several promising academy members to have a run in the first team.
Guardiola has commented that he will seek to better utilise these academy graduates for the forthcoming season, especially during the domestic cup games, despite the number of high profile signings that have already been added into first team.
As is the case with United’s pre-season, City will look to use the games to bed in new players but also expand the club’s commercial brand in the US through their high profile games.
The tour will help players reach full readiness after the long off-season and provide fans with a first taste of what Guardiola’s new plans and tactics are for this year.
The Spaniard is renowned for changing his systems throughout the season and will be hoping that this season these changes will bring the success they provided him at Barcelona and Bayern rather than the troubles he faced last season.
Image courtesy of Man City via YouTube, with thanks.