Pete Hall believes Manchester City have assembled a varied forward line capable of mounting a serious title challenge this season under Manuel Pellegrini.
By Pete Hall - Follow on Twitter
Last Updated: 27/07/13 2:34pm
Sacking a manager who won them their first trophy in 35 years, their first league title in 44 years and then replacing him with a 59-year-old South American who has never previously managed in England did perplex even the most seasoned Manchester City follower.
Roberto Mancini's popularity meant that any successor would have to act fast to win over the doubters, and prove that the City hierarchy made the right decision - and Manuel Pellegrini has done just that.
Whilst David Moyes toils to solve United's midfield conundrum, Jose Mourinho struggles to convince United to part with the wantaway Wayne Rooney and Arsene Wenger misses out on another high-profile target, the experienced Chilean has quietly addressed City's main area of concern, and assembled a potent strikeforce that is capable of firing City to glory, at home and abroad.
"We have four very good strikers and that's very necessary if we want to play in the Premier League and Champions League as a competitive team," Pellegrini confidently proclaimed to the media after City's pre-season victory over South China.
Under Mancini, City were only the joint-fifth highest scorers in the Premier League last season with 66 goals, 27 fewer than the previous campaign, and 20 adrift of United, form that ultimately led to the meek surrender of their English crown, and yet another Champions League disaster.
And yet, as his rivals forlornly chase their transfer targets, the former Malaga boss has got right to the heart of the problem, and bought two exciting imports that add another dimension to the City forward line, and ensure all attacking bases are covered.
It is common knowledge that even in the modern footballing era of one lone striker, four forwards with a variety of talents breeds success, especially when competing on four fronts.
The 'famous four' of Manchester United's 1999 Treble-winning side are always mentioned when discussing such a concept, as they complemented each other perfectly, and the fact they are still brought up all these years later shows how hard it is to possess the complete attacking package.
The loss of Mario Balotelli, and more recently Carlos Tevez, meant Pellegrini would have to strengthen, with Tevez especially fundamental to much of the success his predecessor achieved at The Etihad.
The Argentine made his name with his tenacity off the ball and his contribution to the team, and there is no doubting that for all his off-field problems, he is an immensely talented footballer.
But with just 15 league goals in the last two seasons, the addition of a predatory hitman was essential, and Alvaro Negredo fits the bill perfectly.
Leading Spanish scorer for two of the last three seasons in La Liga, despite playing in a declining Sevilla outfit, Pellegrini moved fast to get his man.
If the 27-year-old had been any other nationality he would have surely been approaching a century of caps purely on his consistency alone.
After making his name at Almeria, the Madrid-born Negredo moved to Sevilla in 2009, and as other forwards came and went he stayed put, and carried on scoring goals.
Last season was his most prolific yet, netting 25 goals in 36 league games, including an absurd four-goal haul in what turned out to be his final appearance for the club against Valencia on the final day of last season, and there is more to come from a player still approaching his peak.
To complement his goalscoring prowess perfectly, the addition of Stevan Jovetic adds further threat to the City attack, and with comparisons to the likes of Roberto Baggio from many fans and pundits alike in Italy, he could well prove to be a huge hit in Manchester.
Playing in the number 10, trequartista role, his impeccable technique is surprising for a man of his size. Capable of providing as well as finding the net himself, his range of attributes will trouble defenders at all levels this season.
Thirteen goals and five assists for Fiorentina last year indicates he has shown no signs of the serious knee injury that kept him out of the entire 2010/11 campaign, and turning down Juventus to secure a switch to The Etihad shows a desire the enigmatic Tevez certainly lacked in recent years.
With the creative acquisitions of deep-lying playmaker Fernandinho and Negredo's former Sevilla team-mate Jesus Navas - who created an incredible 76 chances in Spain last season - City fans will certainly be a lot happier with their club's transfer dealings than they were 12 months ago.
Adding to the flair and skill of Sergio Aguero and the aerial ability of Edin Dzeko, Pellegrini certainly has an attack to strike fear into opponents this season. And despite confessing he may still strengthen his side further, Pellegrini's swift transfer activity has left his rivals trailing in his wake.
It has given City the perfect platform to regain their Premier League crown and finally get to grips with Europe's elite competition.