Aguero: City deserve to be favourites
Sergio Aguero believes Manchester City are rightly favourites to win the Premier League this season, but both Manchester United and Chelsea will run them close to glory.
Speaking to Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport, Aguero said the Citizens also have a better chance in Europe this term and that a semi-final berth should be their minimum aim in the Champions League.
The 25-year-old also expressed his regret at Roberto Mancini's sacking, insisting that the team was always behind the Italian coach. "
"I'm convinced that we’re stronger than last year," Aguero said. "It’s going to be a tight Premier League, but we've got a good squad capable of winning. In fact, I would say we are better equipped than both United and Chelsea.
"United are going to be our main rivals, even if they have changed coach. And then there are Chelsea with Jose Mourinho returning. They've got a good squad, but so too have Tottenham, and there's always Liverpool."
City also have a new coach with Manuel Pellegrini picking up the reins in the summer after Mancini was released in the wake of a 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup final.
The Italian coach was widely made the scapegoat for City's trophyless season, but Aguero says he has a lot to thank him for.
"He always treated me well, correctly and we won the Premier League with him here for the first time in 44 years," said the Argentinean. "It's not true that Mancini had problems in the dressing room. That was just what the papers wrote when we weren't at our best, but it's not true.
"I have to respect the club's decision to change coach, but my relationship with Roberto was always excellent."
Aguero is now looking to the future with City's debut in the Champions League around the corner. They travel to face Viktoria Plzen next week and, having failed to live up to the expectations in their previous two European campaigns, Aguero believes they are now more mature and ready to deliver the goods.
"The Champions League is difficult and City were not used to certain kinds of match," he said. "There were few experienced players and we were given tough draws. Two years ago we got Bayern Munich and Napoli, then it was Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax last year, so at least one finalist each year and even a semi-finalist last year too.
"This year, we've got Bayern again, but we'll fight for for our chance with CSKA [Moscow] and Viktoria. Our aim is to come through the group phase and then, with luck, you can reach the final or be in the final four.
"The Champions League sometimes reserves small surprises, like Dortmund in the final last year or Chelsea winning it in 2012. They were good, well-organised teams, but certainly not regarded as one of the best to begin with. Now I think there will be Barcelona reaching the semi-finals at least, then the usual Real, Bayern, United and us."
Serie A could also have a representative or two in the last eight with Aguero tipping both Napoli and AC Milan to go far, while he would not rule out the threat of Juventus, who have strengthened with his compatriot and former City team-mate Carlos Tevez.
"I’m delighted for Tevez that he's finished up in a big club like Juventus, and he's already started winning trophies," Aguero said. "I hope things go well for him. For me, he's a great attacker and it is an honour for Italian football to have somebody like him. He adds quality to Serie A."