Man City ‘chomping at the bit’ to get stuck into new season
MARK HUGHES can hardly wait for the Premier League season to start as Manchester City prepare for their eagerly anticipated opening game at Blackburn today.
Hughes has spent almost £100 million on a galaxy of star names during the close season and the City manager knows his revamped team will be under intense scrutiny when they travel to his former club.
Of the major new signings, Kolo Toure, Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez could all make their debuts at Ewood Park. And while Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz is ruled out until the end of the month with a knee problem, Emmanuel Adebayor will also be in line for a first appearance if he overcomes a groin problem sustained on international duty with Togo.
City, who are still chasing Everton defender Joleon Lescott, are the talk of the Premier League and have been hotly-tipped to launch a sustained challenge for the top four, although Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson maintains City are not yet a title threat.
Hughes knows he can do nothing about the increasing expectation at Eastlands but feels his squad will improve significantly on last season’s 10th position. Key to that will be improving on the away form that brought City just two wins on their league travels last season.
But after all the talk, Hughes is just desperate for the season to start.
“All the pre-season games and preparation have been geared towards just one thing and that is the opening contest at Ewood Park,” he said. “We are chomping at the bit to get going. There is a tangible feeling of anticipation both within the club and amongst the fans.
“We want to put on a great show for our fans,” Hughes added. “We needed to address our away form from last season and we have the opportunity now to start on the front foot. We can make a statement.
City's England U21 defender Nedum Onuoha has echoed those sentiments and admits he will be just as fascinated to see how the new-look team actually gets on.
“We just want to get started,” he said. “I’m really excited, all the squad are because there has not been a time recently where there has been so much attention on Manchester City.”
Blackbur n manager Sam Allardyce is hoping that captain Ryan Nelsen will overcome a knee problem but South African striker Benni McCarthy looks set to start in attack. – Sapa-AFP