Yaya Toure claims the hunger is back as Manchester City set out to make up for last season’s disappointments.
City fell below expectations in 2014-15 as they failed to mount a strong defence of the Premier League title they won the previous season and fell well short in the domestic cup competitions.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men did come up against a brilliant Barcelona side in the last 16 of the Champions League but, again, the lack of progress on that front was a frustration.
Questions were asked of Pellegrini’s leadership, with the unassuming methods that previously succeeded having failed, and of a number of players, Toure included.
But Pellegrini survived, along with the majority of his squad, despite suggestions of a large-scale clear-out.
Toure’s future was in doubt after another round of outspoken comments from his erratic agent towards the end of last season, but the speculation quickly dissipated as a summer of rest allowed minds to be refocused.
The signing of Raheem Sterling now has the potential to revitalise the squad and Toure himself, after last season’s laboured campaign, is feeling fresh and ready to fuel a City charge.
The 32-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder said: “After two or three years full of competition, I needed the break but I am very happy to be back and working.
“We have a lot of targets. The target this year is to make his club proud because last year was quite disappointing. We want to do something big this year.”
Due to the Financial Fair Play regulations of European governing body UEFA –which City breached last year and consequently suffered a handicap – the club are unlikely to return to the heavy spending that characterised the early years of Sheikh Mansour’s ownership.
The opening of the club’s new £200million academy last year may have underlined a desire to produce more homegrown players but no compromises will be made when it comes to the quality of the first-team squad.
Toure said: “We are looking forward to the new players coming and trying to help the club do something big.
“The club has been built to top this league and when we finish in second it is quite disappointing. We want to bounce back.”