Pep Guardiola has transformed English football since his arrival in 2016. His philosophy of expansive free flowing football is a joy to watch for the neutral. Alongside playing the beautiful game, the former Barcelona coach has dominated domestically. 2 Premier League titles, 3 domestic cups, including the domestic treble in 2018/19. The Spaniard has proven once again he is an elite manager. However with the rise of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, is his time at Manchester City coming to an end?
Guardiola has by no means been a failure in Manchester. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He’s broken countless records, brought consistent silverware to the Etihad and revolutionised their style of play. Yet in 2019/20, his City side have been sub-par. They sit 3rd in the table, behind Leicester and Liverpool, with the gap between 3rd and 1st now a staggering 14 points. The Citizens have stumbled on numerous occasions this season, already losing as many games as the did the whole of last season.
The title race looks to be over already and it’s only December. Quite the contrast to last season’s incredible 2 horse race, who battled all the way until the last day of the season. Even Pep has accepted it.
“The title is over.”Pep Guardiola on Manchester City’s title hopes after Liverpool’s lead at the top
Pep Guardiola – The legacy
Defeat to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United was the nail in the coffin for me. It looks almost impossible for City to make up such ground on a team that look unstoppable. With the elite mentality they have, Klopp’s Reds just keep grinding out results.
You don’t expect an elite side to give up so early. Let alone the reigning champions. Even if they personally believe that it’s over, they won’t come out in the media and say it. This signals that the sole focus of City this season is the Champions League. A trophy that has eluded them, but also their manager for quite some time.
Over 8 years since the former midfielder lifted club football’s most coveted prize with the Blaugrana. If he wants to strengthen his claim as the greatest manager of all time (let’s be honest, it’s Sir Alex), he’ll have to win it again. Mourinho did it 2 twice at 2 different clubs. Ferguson won it twice. Pep needs to do the same. Especially considering the ridiculous amount of money he’s spent.
Champions League push
To be fair to the Sky Blues, their luck with injuries hasn’t been great. Not that it’s an excuse considering the finance they have available. Losing both Laporte and Sane so early in the season has shaken this team. A team we thought had incredible squad depth. But they are lacklustre at the back, always getting exposed and having no leader to organise them. Vincent Kompany is being missed, that’s for sure.
It’s putting all your eggs in one basket no doubt. If City fall short in Europe once again, winning the FA Cup and/or the League Cup wouldn’t be a compromise. Questions would then begin being asked of the 48 year old. There would no excuse for not getting at least to a semi-final or final, if all the focus will be placed on one competition. There’s no chance he would be sacked by the Manchester City hierarchy. I don’t see an as good alternative to him that’s available. Mikel Arteta has been set up to take over in the long term, not now.
Manchester, Turin or Paris?
The former Bayern Munich manager has said he’s open to an extension. Whether he means that or not, we’ll have to wait and see. I can see him staying at City, just because of this long term project they’re building. But I can also see him moving. Either at the end of this season or next season. Pep only stayed at Barcelona and Bayern for 4 and 3 years respectively.
Juventus and PSG. Two new countries. Two clubs that also dominate domestically, but struggle to win European silverware. They have Guardiola’s name written all over them. I can see him leaving for either of them within the next 2 years.
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