With the squad returning from their summer holidays due to no international tournaments taking place this summer, I feel like this is the perfect time to show you the first-team squad and staff for the upcoming 2025/26 season:
In the coaching department, we have the best in the division without a doubt. I obviously earn the most money per week as the first-team manager with £185,000 per week coming in. Upon arrival I was joined by my Oulu and Fiorentina assistant Thomas Jorgensen as well as the coach Bajram Fetai who has also been with me at every club I have managed. Rodolfo Borrell joined us for £1.3million from Atlético Madrid alongside a coaching duo arriving from Arsenal in the form of both Javier García and Padraig Roche.
In the medical department, we also have some of the best in the world. However, I have yet to make any of my own additions to this area of staff given that most of the existing physios and scientists are of the best quality already.
The recruitment team is the largest section of the backroom staff as it employs 21 people. Txiki Begiristain remains as the club’s Director of Football on just over £20Kp/w. This summer I have added five more scouts to the team, taking the club total up to 15 employed scouts, excluding the chief scout Gary Worthington. Carlos Vargas joined us from FC Bayern, Davide Cattaneo joined from Napoli, Tomasz Pasieczny joined from Arsenal meanwhile Cristian Martinez and Daryl Henry were both unattached before I approached them with a contract offer. Our new chief data analyst is also a new arrival as Riccardo Scirea joins us from Juventus.
Moving onto the first-team playing squad, we start with the goalkeepers. Ederson has remained at the club ever since joining Manchester City from Benfica in 2017 for a fee of £35million. He stays as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper as he heads towards making his 300th league appearances for Man City alone this season. As our back-up goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu will be called upon whenever necessary should Ederson need some time out of the team. Since joining from Shamrock Rovers for £500,000 back in 2019, Bazunu has made 28 appearances for Manchester City, conceding only 23 and keeping 11 clean sheets in that period.
With the goalkeepers covered, we will look at those who will be covering the goalkeeper on the field with the defence. Andrea Marcato takes the lead as the most-talented centre-back in the squad as he has fulfilled his potential since his £57M move from Juventus three years ago. Last season was his first full season of key involvement in the starting eleven as he made 52 appearances across all competitions, gathering an impressive 7.12 average rating in the process. Looking to partner Marcato at the back will be fought between the very talented Niklas Sule or the new arrival Matthijs De Ligt. Sule has been a key player for Man City ever since his £101million move from Bayern Munich back in 2022. However, with De Ligt being a Virtanen signing, it could be argued that he will be preferred over the German. Raphael Varane rounds off the centre-backs as he will be a fourth-choice centre-back after a rich playing career in Manchester resulting in 12 trophies for the Frenchman.
Both the full-back areas are perhaps our weakest link in the squad, with an ageing David Alaba into his final years on the left and with no current back-up, and the quality on the right side with either Semedo or Odriozola is fairly average for a side wanting to win the Champions League, as well as the fact that both players are getting on in age nowadays.
Onto the engine room, the best central midfielder that we have is Nobuhiro Furuya by a long stretch. The Japan national team captain has gone from strength-to-strength since his £3.2M arrival in 2020 from Okayama FC. After two loan spells in Serie A, Furuya proved himself to the Man City hierarchy from 2023 onwards and has been an integral part of both Man City sides since. Alexandr Golovin was another huge signing from a few years ago when they bought the Russian for £103M from AS Monaco back in 2020. Since then, 133 appearances have come for the midfielder, scoring 21 goals in the process. Mateo Kovacic and Kevin De Bruyne - a City veteran - will be next in line after Furuya and Golovin. De Bruyne is entering his tenth year as a Manchester City player and has his testimonial friendly coming up soon against his former side VfL Wolfsburg.
If we need a defensive midfielder in our system on some matchdays, we are covered by two youngsters in the Frenchman Claude Blondel, who returns from a successful loan at Internazionale or the Spanish defensive midfielder Rafael Gonzalez Garciá. If we choose to go with attacking midfielders, we have much more experience as both Dele Alli or Phil Foden are out options for a number ten role.
Out on the left wing, Leroy Sané remains the club’s best choice down the left, backed up by the Brazilian winger Raphninha who spent last season winning the Serie A top scorer award when out on loan to AC Milan. Out on the right, Raheem Sterling is also set for a testimonial match straight after De Bruyne’s against Stuttgart after spending ten years at the club. He will have to fight with last season’s big signing Leon Bailey who signed for £105million from Chelsea last term.
With all but the strikers looked at, we introduce our most prized asset - the 2024 Ballon d’Or winner Kylian Mbappé. The French hero has won the individual award three out of the last four years. He costed Manchester City a jaw-dropping £169million in 2021 when he was bought from Paris Saint-Germain and has scored 90 goals in 180 of his City fixtures in all competitions. Backing up the world’s best player is Mauro Icardi, who combined with Mbappé’s league scoring record contributed 50% of City’s 86-goal total in their title-winning season. Since joining in 2018, Icardi has scored 108 goals in 221 league games. Finally, for the last player we look at this summer it is Luigi Bruno who was signed in 2023 from Atalanta for £48.5million and has contributed 18 goals in 42 of his league appearances, despite most of his appearances coming from off the bench.
Finally, we will look at what we are up against this season in the Premier League. As the current holders of the title, we are once again the favourites to win the league again, despite City only beating Liverpool by one point last season. Liverpool are heading into their fifth year of management under Diego Simeone and he will be hunting for his second Premier League title during his reign at the Kenny Dalglish Stadium.
Arsenal are predicted to finish a few places higher than their 2024/25 spot of 5th after hiring Carlo Ancelotti after Freddie Ljungberg left the interim post following Pep Guardiola’s sacking in February. After Ancelotti won the league back-to-back as well as the Champions League, the odds are more in Arsenal’s favour to challenge this time.
As Zinedine Zidane heads into his seventh year of managing Spurs this season, he only has one FA Cup trophy to show for his hard work. Spurs are predicted to come in 6th place this season after years of not properly investing in the playing squad.
Following West Ham’s League Cup victory last season, they are predicted to finish much higher than last season’s 14th placed finish as Thomas Christiansen leads them into the new season with new signing Lucas Moura on a free transfer.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton surpassed a whole decade as their manager last season however, under the 66-year-old the highest that the club have finished in the top-flight is 10th place which is why the bookies don’t place Brighton’s chances of breaking into the top-half too high.
Brentford, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers all were promoted from the Championship last season, with my Oulu successor Simo Valakari leading Blackburn all the way to second-tier title last year. Blackburn are expected to stay up under Valakari, with Fulham - who scraped survival last year - are predicted to be relegated at the end of this season.
I was absolutely delighted to get him, especially after first thinking he would have costed much more! He is a fantastic player, there’s no doubt.
At just 25 years old he is at his peak, without a doubt. All he needs to mark the great player that he is is a major trophy, which I hope to achieve alongside him.
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