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, and this 2 year Champions League ban bombshell, 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. Perhaps even that’s generous. They sit 2nd in the table, a staggering 22 POINTS behind Liverpool. The Citizens have stumbled on numerous occasions this season, already losing 2 more games than they did the whole of last season.
The title race is without doubt over now. 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 accepted Liverpool are bringing home their maiden Premier League title relatively early on.
“The title is over.”Pep Guardiola on Manchester City’s title hopes after Liverpool’s lead at the top
Pep Guardiola – The legacy
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. So after they knew they were falling too far behind, it’s clear the focus of City shifted towards the Champions League quite early on. The trophy that has eluded them since they began competing consistently for silverware. They’ve failed to make a semi-final in club football’s most respected competition. Even their boss Guardiola hasn’t tasted the glory of lifting a European trophy in quite a while now.
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. Pep needs to do the same. Especially considering the ridiculous amount of money he’s spent.
2 year UCL ban – A crushing blow
If you thought it was putting all your eggs in one basket before, it’s even more so now. With this 2 year ban from the Champions League for breaching FFP, it’s this season or never for Manchester City. Whether their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is successful or not, who knows. But assuming the ban holds, this is a devastating blow in the City Group’s long term project of dominance.
Will Guardiola stay for 2 more years without playing in Europe? I highly doubt it. He only stayed at Barcelona and Bayern for 4 and 3 years respectively. Another sabbatical is on the cards, before an under fire Maurizio Sarri potentially gives way for the Juventus job. That move to Turin seems more likely than ever now.
Not to mention, why would any players want to stay at the Etihad or join the blue side of Manchester without Champions League football? Winning domestic competitions and competing for the league is one thing. But no European football under the lights on a Tuesday night makes the Etihad nowhere near as attractive. They don’t have the history the likes of Arsenal or Manchester United have either, which enable them to attract top players despite being in chaos and outside of Europe’s top competition. Either way, this is a crushing for City and really risks stifling what they’ve been building up to for so many years.
Real Madrid – A tough task ahead
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 had shaken the 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. Thankfully for them now, their French centre back is fully fit and playing again. Vincent Kompany is being missed though, 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. Unfortunately for Pep, he’s been given a tough draw too. Real Madrid, with the first leg at the Bernabeu next week! Genuinely this news and the added pressure couldn’t come at a worse time. With 5 La Liga wins in a row too and sitting at the top of the table, Zinedine Zidane’s Los Blancos have found form at the right time. All signs are pointing towards an exit for Pep and his side.
There would no excuse for not getting at least to a semi-final or final, if all the focus was planned to be on one competition quite early on in 2019/20. Especially now with a potential 2 year exile from the UCL. There’s no chance he would be sacked by the Manchester City hierarchy. Even if he suggests it’s possible. I don’t see an as good alternative to him that’s available.
Pep Guardiola – 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. This latest news will certainly make him think twice about staying in Manchester. We’ve mentioned the prospect of managing the Bianconeri, even Paris is an option.
Juventus and PSG. Two new countries. Two clubs that spend big, 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 at the end of this season if the Citizens get knocked out by Zidane’s Madrid in the coming weeks. A defining period in both City’s history and the managerial career of Pep Guardiola…
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