Manchester City's 2024 Kickoff: Week in Abu Dhabi
It can be refreshing to take a break and change your surroundings.
Last month, as Manchester City flew to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup right after a disappointing finish against Crystal Palace, the atmosphere on the plane might not have been the best.
However, the new environment proved beneficial. Following their fifth major trophy win in 2023, the team's spirits lifted. On their flight back, they were already strategizing about defeating Everton post-Christmas.
Now, they're riding the momentum of six consecutive victories across all competitions.
The sun may well have streamed into Pep Guardiola's home in Manchester this week but he will cherish the extra 20 degrees that Abu Dhabi has when the Blues fly out on Thursday for a week of warm-weather training.
What he will enjoy even more is the chance to be out on the grass with his players doing what he enjoys the most but rarely gets to do: train them.
Most of City's title wins have had a striking tactical element behind their success honed on the training ground that may not have yielded immediate results but proved irrepressible once it clicked. Having transformed the team in 2017, inverted full-backs gave way to a roaming Joao Cancelo with a false nine before the John Stones role in an aggressive backline helped them to the Treble last season.
"As you could see, there were games where it didn't really work and wasn't going great.
Sometimes it got results and sometimes we didn't," explained Nathan Ake.
"But at one point we got it and from there, we flew."
As well as attempting to iron out the kinks from the first half of the season and bed in new ideas in what is likely to be the last week of full training before the Premier League ends if City are to be as successful as they want to be there is the opportunity to welcome back new players.
Erling Haaland is scheduled to start training again after some time off following a setback to his foot injury, while Manu Akanji and John Stones can push closer to fitness.
Despite the weather, it will be a week of work too.
Around a handful of training sessions are planned in favourable conditions at excellent facilities with distractions of media and commercial windows limited, meaning that a lot more should get done than can be achieved on a pre-season tour.
There will also be the chance for Guardiola to chat with his bosses.
The manager has a close relationship with sporting director Txiki Begiristain, and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak anyway and there is regular conversation about the team but all are up for awards at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai on Friday.
Just like the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA Best awards, City are in the running for the major team and individual prizes after an incredible year and are expected to send a sizable contingent to the ceremony given they are in the country.
As well as reflecting on the success they have had, Guardiola and City's executives can think about how to achieve their next goals.
Guardiola has brought up Liverpool's form a couple of times in recent press conferences and described them as 'flying' at the weekend.
When they return to fight for the three trophies that they won last year, City hope that their Abu Dhabi trip can allow them to soar at the business end of the season.
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