Champions Manchester City will avoid the hangover that hampered their previous Premier League title defence, captain Vincent Kompany said on Friday on the eve of the new season.
When Sergio Aguero’s dramatic late winner, with virtually the last kick of the game against Queens Park Rangers, snatched the 2011-12 title from Manchester United’s grasp, many thought City would romp home again the following year.
As it turned out, they did not reach the same heights and trailed in a distant second behind United in 2012-13, and also lost the FA Cup final to Wigan Athletic, before manager Roberto Mancini was replaced by Manuel Pellegrini.
This time, having claimed last season’s title by out-lasting Liverpool and Chelsea in the run-in, Kompany expects things to be different.
“I can tell you that mentally we are roaring for the new season,” said the 28-year-old Belgian, who is not guaranteed to start at Newcastle United because of a late return to training following the World Cup.
“All of us are ready,” he told the club’s website. “We are hungry for competition. Physically, there is a question mark. We (the World Cup players) have not had a single minute in a friendly.
“Really, our fitness will be put to the test in the Newcastle game. If we get through this what a great message it will be to the rest of the league of our resilience to continue on what we built last year.
“Our goal is to win the Premier League again. We’ve worked really hard to get to this level, so we’re going to make sure we maintain that. We want to keep the badge on the side of our shirts for a bit longer.”
With Chelsea and Arsenal having strengthened, and with Louis van Gaal in charge at Manchester United, City will face fierce competition to retain the title and will be wary of a tough opening sequence of fixtures.
“I feel there are a lot of red flags, alarm signals from last time, we have to be really careful not to fall into complacency. I’m pretty confident that’s not going to happen,” said Kompany, who signed a new long-term contract this week.
“It’s never a good thing to start the season with that many hard fixtures when players have not had a full pre-season.
“But sometimes you become stronger in adversity and I’m fully confident our team can do that and if we can, it will make it so much better – so much more enjoyable.”
City have reined in their spending, although they have bolstered their defensive ranks with the likes of Bacary Sagna from Arsenal, Eliaquim Mangala from Porto and Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has also joined on loan from MLS side New York and Kompany has been impressed with the veteran’s sharpness.
“I was surprised with the athleticism of Frank Lampard at his age,” Kompany said. “He looks to me like he’s in his best form – he’s unbelievable in training.”
After Newcastle, City host Liverpool and Stoke City before an away trip to Arsenal followed by a home match with Chelsea.