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Grading Manuel Pellegrini's Start to the Season at Manchester City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31:  Manuel Pellegrini the manager of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Hull City at the Etihad Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Glenn HoddleFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

Ex-England manager Glenn Hoddle has signed on to write a weekly column for Bleacher Report UK. Learn more out about Glenn's exciting new website venture, Zapsportzhere.

As I reflect on Manchester City's start to the Premier League campaign, I'm wondering whether they have learned their lesson from last year.

City lost the title to United last season because they failed to apply themselves in the games that looked easy to win on paper. They came unstuck against the mid-table teams—that was their downfall.

That same problem was still in evidence in their 3-2 defeat at Cardiff and a 0-0 draw away at Stoke. Both of those teams outplayed City, who were lucky to escape with a draw at Stoke.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Jack Rodwell of Manchester City is tackled by Steven Nzonzi of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Manchester City at Britannia Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Stoke on Trent
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

When manager Manuel Pellegrini said the point he got at Stoke was a good one, as per the Manchester Evening News, I was left to wonder if he is fully aware of the situation he finds himself in at City. The club's owner, Sheikh Mansour, was surely wondering the same thing.

OK, City had a blinding start in the Champions League and it's good they have gotten off to a good start in their group, but Pellegrini has far more experience of the European game than he does of the Premier League.

When you spend huge sums of money to dominate domestically in England, expectations have to be higher than accepting a "good point" at Stoke. City had £135 million worth of players...on their bench.

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 25:  Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini (r) looks on before the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Manchester City at Cardiff City Stadium on August 25, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Gett
Stu Forster/Getty Images

But what a sweet point for Stoke manager Mark Hughes after being so badly treated at City. They were far the better side, with Charlie Adam back to his best. I’ve always rated Charlie as one of the most visionary passers in the Premier League.  

With the Manchester derby coming Sunday at the Etihad, it was a good job Pellegrini rebounded from that game with such an impressive result in the Champions League. And it's good, for his sake, he has Vincent Kompany back again.

City can spend all the money they like on all types of players, but if the most important cog in their machine is taken out, they can't perform. They still cannot cope without their influential captain Kompany—irrespective of how many players they buy.

The Pellegrini era has to go up a few gears to convince me they are a better bet to win the Premier League and improve in the Champions League this season than last. Pellegrini will need to convince Mansour of the same thing.

GRADE: I'd give Pellegrini 5/10 so far based on his Premier League start. Hughes, meanwhile, deserves 7.5 based on the fixtures he was handed at Stoke.

 

* Zapsportz.com is the new exciting website where Glenn Hoddle reveals how kids from all over the world can enter the X-factor style Zapstarz, the former England manager's search for a new generation of footballing talent.

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