The 2015/16 campaign for Manchester City won’t go down as a particularly memorable one, despite notable achievements.
The club did make significant strides in Europe by reaching the Champions League semi-finals, before succumbing to a narrow loss at the hands of the mighty Real Madrid, but the reality is that the game was there for the taking and City lacked the intensity required to reach the final in Milan.
And of course they did not end the season empty-handed, as they claimed the Capital One Cup final at Wembley Stadium back in February with a penalty shoot-out victory over Liverpool. While a piece of silverware is always welcomed, it was the least relevant out of all of the trophies City competed for last term.
City just about secured Champions League qualification for the next season, but they should not be settling for that and instead should have put up a better title challenge.
Here are three things we learnt from City’s 2015/16 campaign:
1. Kevin De Bruyne is a special player
Undoubtedly the major positive for Manchester City in the 2015/16 campaign was how quickly Kevin De Bruyne adapted when he returned to the Premier League.
The Belgian had unfinished business in England having been previously cast aside by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Heaps of pressure followed De Bruyne to Manchester following his £54 million transfer, but he has proved his worth with an exceptional debut campaign.
Seventeen goals and nine assists in all competitions is a remarkable return, especially when you take his injury into account.
City struggled incredibly when he suffered a knee injury in January and they may well have finished higher had he stayed fit. Scorer of many memorable goals in the season, De Bruyne could reach an even higher level next season under Pep Guardiola.
2. Kelechi Iheanacho is a star in the making
Another shining light, in a fairly underwhelming season, was Nigerian prodigy Kelechi Iheanacho.
Kelechi came into the squad for his first season with the side and was expected to play as the third-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony in the pecking order.
Yet, thanks to his strong performances and clinical finishing, he forced his way into Manuel Pellegrini’s first-team plans and by the end of the season, he was partnering Aguero in attack.
Fourteen goals in his debut campaign is evidence of his wonderful talents and there’s every chance that he becomes a hugely important player for Manchester City in the future, if he hasn’t already.
3. Guardiola will make drastic changes in the summer
A final take-away from the season is that we can definitely expect incoming boss Guardiola to shake up the squad in the summer.
The current side has grown stale and no longer functions in the same way as it used to. Too often, they have been out-thought and outfought by sides who are normally inferior to them.
Their record against the top eight is appalling, with the Citizens recording just a single win – which came against Southampton back in November. Granted they were not helped by an unimaginable amount of injuries to key players, but frankly they did not to finish higher than fourth.
And though Pellegrini’s tactics were suspect at times, the players take a good chunk of the blame and many will not be here in the summer.
The likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov, David Silva, Jesus Navas and Bony could all leave and be replaced by a younger crop of players who can adhere to Guardiola’s principles.
A squad overhaul is desperately needed as City enter their next cycle.