Pep Guardiola signed a new two-year contract in November to ensure he remains as Manchester City Manager until 2023. Sam Broad analyses Guardiola’s Manchester City career so far.
Pep Guardiola’s first year at Manchester City
In 2016, Manchester City had secured two Premier League titles with differing managers. The club that was so accustomed to being surpassed by Manchester United had tasted success. However, City wanted to go beyond irregular title wins and reign supreme over the Premier League.
The Manchester City hierarchy had incredible ambitions. With an infinite source of finance at their disposal, Pep Guardiola’s ruthless perfectionism meant he was tailor-made for the job. Successful reigns as manager of FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich, Guardiola has shown he is perfectly suited for handling elite squads.
Pep Guardiola inherited a team that featured modern Manchester City greats. The likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva, and Kun Agüero were established Premier League title winners, players with footballing intelligence that could follow the mesmerising instructions of a manager like Guardiola.
Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City passed quite unremarkably, a positive start to the campaign was derailed by inconsistent performances that coincided with the turning of the British weather.
Pep Guardiola and transfers
Former Manchester City goalkeeper, Joe Hart was outcasted early on in Guardiola’s reign as manager. Hart was shipped out on loan to Italian side Torino, where the shot-stopper struggled to get his career back on track.
Enter Claudio Bravo, a goalkeeper who was perceived to be a good footballer, as well as a safe pair of hands.
The goalkeeping replacement marked the beginning of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City revolution, where every player was expected to be competent with a football at their feet.
The illusion of Bravo’s goalkeeping ability soon started to disappear and Manchester City began losing consecutive games.
Murmurings from rival Premier League fans began, discrediting Guardiola for his previous European achievements.
Guardiola’s famous Champions League victories with FC Barcelona, featured some of the best players to ever grace a football pitch.
Guardiola’s contribution can be questioned when overlooking a talented team that naturally plays so eloquently.
While Guardiola does generally only join teams that are the best in their domestic leagues, jobs without any financial constraints. Guardiola’s intense style of management is ideal for top clubs that are interested in short term success, with the trophies contributing to the overall legacy of the football club.
In 2017, Ederson left Benfica to join Manchester City for £35 million. Ederson’s contribution has been a contrast to what Bravo offered. The Brazilian has effectively deployed as a sweeper-keeper, a style familiar with Manuel Neuer.
Guardiola’s hunt for a goalkeeper superior to Joe Hart has perhaps shown naivety in the way he operates in the transfer market. The purchase of two players in the same position within the space of a year is a luxury not regularly afforded to a team outside of Manchester City’s wealth bracket.
Arguably, Manchester City has not performed as well in the transfer market as they have on the pitch under Guardiola’s tenure.
This comes as no surprise, with the acknowledgment that Guardiola’s average managerial job role lasts for three years.
While Guardiola displays qualities that make him an elite manager in an initial three-year contract, with an ability to guide world-class players beyond their potential. He remains unlikely to bring lasting success to a club over a long period of time, as he is yet to show the skills needed to reform an aging squad
Pep Guardiola and domestic success
In the 2017/18 season, Manchester City won the Premier League title, achieving 100 points. The highest points tally achieved in a single Premier League season, finishing nineteen points clear of Manchester United.
The following season saw Manchester City follow on from the previous year’s success. A total of 98 points, depriving Liverpool FC of their first Premier League title.
The same season resulted in City becoming the first English men’s team to win a domestic treble. The accolades earned throughout the 2018/19 season marked the pinnacle of Manchester City’s achievements.
Guardiola’s perfectionism shone through, leading to consistent performances across multiple competitions. The Premier League title became even more impressive, with the acknowledgment that Liverpool FC pushed Guardiola’s men to the last game of the season.
As well as two Premier League titles, Guardiola’s attention to detail has secured three consecutive league cups and one FA Cup.
What more can Pep Guardiola achieve at Manchester City?
While such an intensive authority has commanded success domestically. It can be suggested that this same trait has led to Manchester City’s downfall in the Champions League.
The willingness to compete at the highest level in every domestic competition available only takes away from potential progress in the Champions League.
The latter stages of the League cup coincide with the initial knockout rounds of the Champions League. While FA Cup replays add a dangerous element of an additional game, potentially causing fixture congestion.
Although, it can be suggested Manchester City have the squad depth and the resources to overcome several extra games. The ability to prioritise certain games is a skill Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to possess in comparison to other managerial greats.
Sir Alex Ferguson would often feature Manchester United teams heavily built from inexperienced, academy players. While this has certainly resulted in shock exits from domestic cup competitions to lower league opposition.
It seems a worthy trade for prolonged Premier League success and Champions League glory. Especially, when Guardiola is managing Manchester City, a team that hasn’t won the Champions League.
At times, Pep Guardiola has looked tactically naïve in European competition. Manchester City’s most recent Champions League quarter-final exit occurred with a 3-1 defeat to Lyon. Presumably, with the intention of resting players for the next round, Guardiola left out several of his creative players, most notably David Silva.
The lack of creative ability soon showed and Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League. With the Champions League reduced to a single leg format for the 2019/20 season, Guardiola appears to have missed the golden opportunity to bring Manchester City their first Champions League trophy.
Manchester City’s lackluster contribution to the recent Manchester derby suggests that another Pep Guardiola Premier League title looks unlikely. City looked a shadow of their former self, with a sluggish demeanour and limited creative ambition.
Although, Manchester City have failed to inspire in big games this season. It’s possible that City put themselves within reach of the Premier League title by consistently winning against teams with less quality, providing one of their top-six rivals doesn’t dominate the league.
Manchester City’s impressive European form meant they topped their Champions’ League group with 16 points. Borussia Mönchengladbach are the opponents in the Round of 16, it will be the first challenge of many if City are to make the final.
At this stage, Manchester City successfully navigating the arduous Champions League knockout stages seems a similar feat to winning the lottery.
If City fail to make progress in the Champions League, it is likely that Pep Guardiola’s remaining two years will quietly thistle out.
Ultimately, the modern Manchester City expect Premier League titles, they are the minimum requirement. Pep Guardiola can cement greatness into his Manchester City legacy, with the club’s first Champions League trophy.
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