Manchester City’s lack of business is nothing to worry about
After Manchester City waltzed to the title last season, their manager talked about not sitting on their laurels.
Dominance in all areas may have been the story of City's title success, but Pep Guardiola and his team will have known that they would need to strengthen this summer to defend the title.
History says as much. After enjoying title success in 2011/12, City failed to strengthen. The signings the club did make were ineffective. In 2013/14, it was a similar story. The next season, they finished second. Each time Manchester City have been Premier League champions, they have taken their eye off the ball the following summer.
Chelsea can confirm the need to strengthen. Alvaro Morata and Danny Drinkwater weren't an improvement over Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa.
So is Manchester City’s lack of movement this summer concerning? The answer is no. Despite history's opinion, City do not need to be busy this summer. The squad Guardiola has at his disposal is as strong as they come. There are very few chinks in their armour. Unlike previous title-winning sides, this group only needed tweaks to improve.
Their sole signing this summer is such a tweak. Riyad Mahrez will add to an attack that was among Europe's most potent in 2017/18. His direct style is perfect cover for both Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. His passing ability offers respite for Bernardo Silva, too. With the Algerian in the squad, the Portuguese can move into the centre, rotating with Kevin de Bruyne and his Spanish namesake David.
Guardiola’s system demands much from his players. Rotation is crucial. Greater depth gives City an edge when it comes to competing on several fronts next season. There are also two signings from last season who have yet to play a full Premier League season. Aymeric Laporte arrived in January. Benjamin Mendy was injured.
Laporte featured 13 times in total. With half a season and a pre-season behind him, he should be ready to come into the heart of City’s defence next season. He is a better fit than Nicholas Otamendi, despite the Argentine impressing last season. The Frenchman is also a more physical version of John Stones.
Whether Laporte partners Otamendi, Stones or even Vincent Kompany, a greater understanding of Guardiola's tactics and his responsibilities should offer an improvement on the positionally challenged left-back we saw last season.
Mendy is in the same boat. Had injury not ruled him out for most of last season, he would almost certainly have been a key player in their title success. He began 17/18 in a manner that suggested the left back spot was his to lose.
His return solves a problem that threatened to upend City last season. In his absence, Pep was forced to utilise Danilo and Fabian Delph in the left back spot. It cost them width. Mendy provides defensive stability and an attacking threat that will prevent teams from shifting to the left to ward off Kyle Walker. City will be more balanced and better for having the 24-year-old in the starting lineup.
There are also the youngsters to think about. Manchester City have been working long and hard to build their youth ranks into something special. The work is now bearing fruit.
Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz, Douglas Luiz and Oleksandr Zinchenko are just some of the young names looking to force their way into the first team squad. Several have already been given small opportunities here and there.
If City cannot get the players they want, as has happened with Fred and Jorginho, it makes sense turn to offer the kids opportunities.
Whether Guardiola and Manchester City can repeat their dominance of last season remains to be seen. The rest of the top six have been spending and building in a manner that suggests the gap in quality is closing.
History will also be against them. Title winners who fail to strengthen significantly the following summer have often floundered in their title defence.
A closer look indicates City has improved even without investing heavily in the transfer market. All that's left is for Guardiola to prove it was the correct choice.