The Rafael Benitez Column: My team to watch this season are Manchester City, their Spanish signings are so exciting

Pellegrini has experience, he likes to improve players and he has good English, which is crucial

It's good to be back sharing ideas with you in The Independent, where I found many people wanted to read and talk about tactics and players when we were discussing the European Championship last year. A lot of people say that English football is only about the passion, not the small details of the game. That's not how I found it with the readers here.

I think you will know that I have started a new challenge, managing Napoli, a club with very great ambitions in Serie A. But the Premier League is always in my heart and we will focus a lot on that in the months ahead. The demands on me in a challenging league mean I will write every other week but I hope we can cover a lot of good ground, talking about English, Italian, Spanish football and more. Let me know your views. It will be good to answer questions from time to time, like we did after the Euros.

You will forgive me when I say it is a Spanish aspect that interests me most about this Premier League season. There has been such a lot of attention on Manchester United and Chelsea that no one seems to have been talking about the two Spanish signings at Manchester City – Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo – who, with a tough former adversary of mine, Manuel Pellegrini, make Manchester City a very interesting squad.

They are perhaps the squad that has been overlooked, which is not a thing we have been able to say much about Manchester City in recent years when everyone has been talking, talking, sometimes criticising. I don't think many people know the full story of Navas, who is 27 and has been in Spain for a long while, always at Sevilla. He has needed to be protected and has not always found it easy to be away from that special city. Everyone knew that he was settled there and didn't want to move away but bit by bit he has grown and learnt to be away from home, partly by being away with the Spanish side at international level.

Now he is ready and Manuel will be the one who benefits. Look out for a player who is pacey, very dangerous on the right and puts in good crosses – great mobility; a very dynamic player. Negredo is a different type of player: a great finisher, great left foot and good in the air. He will score goals.

So, although City slipped up in their game at Cardiff, this means nothing. Pellegrini has experience, likes to improve players and has good English, which, by the way, is crucial at the start for a manager going into the Premier League. When you have good players you don't need to talk too much but the English is important because when you try to express an emotion or explain an exercise you need the right words – and when you pronounce the words in the wrong way you lose something. Not a problem for Pellegrini.

We must also mention Roberto Soldado, who has signed for Tottenham from my old club Valencia: another finisher to watch. When you lose a really top-class player like Gareth Bale after big money has been offered, it is really difficult because you just can't replace him – you need more than one to come in. The people you bring in need time to settle down and you buy two or three players because you hope that if one of them doesn't settle down at least the others will.

At Napoli we have experienced the same problem as Tottenham, with Edinson Cavani – like Bale, another player whom a team was built around – going to Paris Saint-Germain, but we really think we have solved that problem by signing Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid. The essential aspect with him, like a lot of players, is that he needs to feel he is very important for the team. This is an essential psychological component for some players and at Real Madrid it was difficult for him to feel that way.

The essential thing when you sell a player in a way that brings a huge windfall, like Tottenham and Bale, is to use that money to buy the players that you actually need. The fans will ask for a big name to replace the one they are losing, but it is an easy trap to buy players you don't really need and who are not worth the money. Yes, it can feel like the money is burning a hole in your pocket. But people know you have the money and replacement players can suddenly carry a price which is not realistic.

So, as the new Premier League season starts, look at Manchester United and Chelsea – of course. And look at Southampton as the team who could be dark horses to push into the top 10, with Pablo Osvaldo as another great striker with great movement, who will fare very well if he can settle down.

But look very hard at City. Little by little the Spaniards, with their obvious technical component, have become more open-minded about how to improve in England. Pellegrini's side are about to learn more about that.

Good to have Pepe the great motivator

I was delighted to get Pepe Reina, whom I signed for Liverpool back in 2005, into Napoli on a year's loan from my old club and it is already more than the goalkeeping that he is delivering for me.

People don't realise what a great motivator Pepe is behind the scenes; encouraging others and pointing out how we can do things better in training. I saw that again in our session today, where he was already expressing himself in Italian. He is a great influence on team matters.

Here's our chance to be film stars

I learnt a long time ago that you can never be sure what football will throw your way. You may know that my chairman at Napoli, Aurelio de Laurentiis, is a film producer. He wants the players to appear in a Christmas comedy film. So, after training, we have been heading out to Castel Volturno, north-west of Naples, for filming sessions in the afternoons. I never knew I had so many film stars in my squad!

One of the scenes starts with the actors doing their job and there in the background are Pepe, my captain Paolo Cannavaro and Marek Hamsik. I don't think we'll be appearing for more than about five minutes in the film but it's fun and it's gone down well. You need the laughs.

The teams in Serie A are all very well organised with a big emphasis on tactics, and last weekend's opening 3-0 win over Bologna was only one step on a very long road.

As I write, I don't know whether I'll have to say anything in the film. The cameras roll in about half an hour! That's not really my strong point, despite the few times I went on stage in Liverpool, where the audiences were too kind! I'll let you know more next time!

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game