Football’s worst kept secret has finally been officially acknowledged by both parties.
Pep Guardiola is the new Manchester City manager but only from July 2016.
It’s a bit of a strange one really. Manuel Pellegrini has a very good record at City. During his tenure, City have won 64 of the 99 league games played. The only coach to have won more in his opening 99 Premier League games is Jose Mourinho (73). City sit second in the Premier League behind Leicester and remain in the running for four trophies this season.
How much can Pep improve City?
Obviously the owners and the fans want to win the Champions League and perhaps Pep has the pedigree to bring them that success. Until now City have always looked out of their depth in Europe despite spending more Pounds on players than any other club in the same time span.
Guardiola has an impressive record too but to date not with a team that isn’t already at the pinnacle in their country.
When he became head coach of Barcelona in 2008 he sold off the likes of Ronaldinho and Deco, and started building the Barcelona team around Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Not a bad line-up to have in your first team. He also introduced the style known as tiki-taka. Further signings included David Villa, Cesc Fàbregas and Javier Mascherano. In the 4 years at Barcelona Pep managed to win 14 titles and take Barca ahead of Real Madrid in the total number of official trophies won. Towards the end of his stint he fell out of favour with the fans and faced criticism for his selections and playing style, soon announcing he would be leaving after losing to Chelsea in the CL semi-final.
After a short sabbatical, Pep announced he was signing for the German powerhouse Bayern Munchen, replacing Jupp Heynckes, whose team had just won the European Champion’s League. Along the way Bayern faced Barcelona at the semi-final stage, thrashing the favourites 7–0 on aggregate to reach a second successive final. The performance was seen as a display of physical and tactical superiority of Bayern over Barcelona. By contrast, in Pep’s first competitive match against Barcelona, Bayern lost 3–0. Bayern failed to get a shot on target in the match.
Under Pep, Bayern have not reached a final in two attempts!
There have been many rumblings from the Bavarian capital about clashes between Pep and Germany and Bayern club legend, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, particularly about playing style. Towards the middle of 2015, with just under a year on his contract left, Pep announced that he would be leaving the Germans to pursue a new challenge.
With the end of the 2015/6 season still 3 months away, Pep has the following record in Germany.
- UEFA Super Cup
- FIFA Club World Cup
- Bundesliga Championships x 2
- German League Cup
Losses in the Champions League at the Semi-Final stages, twice! Bayern are still in the Champions League at the time of writing.
So, what can Manchester City expect?
First of all, players who don’t work hard will find their starting places evaporate. At Bayern, everyone from mercurial winger (Robben/Ribery) to goal machines (Muller etc.) are expected to get back into their own half and recover possession as fast as possible. Tiki-takka has evolved a little but in the end it is still possession football. Openings are created by forcing the opponent to run themselves ragged while you pass the ball around the field. Simple in theory really.
City already have a few decent players who can play the passing game. They also have exciting players who can run with the ball and the explosive Sergio Aguerro. No problem you might think but does possession football have a place in England? Think Louis van Gaal and the miserable rubbish on display week after week.
City have two things in their favour that United don’t. City have a better squad with some seriously talented players and City have very deep pockets. Will Pep allow De Bruyne, Sterling, Silva and Aguerro to run with the ball and create the openings they do, or will he restrict their play to pass and move tiki-taka style.
The highlight of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil wasn’t the demolition of Brazil in the semi-final, although that was class. The highlight for me was the way LVG’s Dutch side destroyed Spain in the opening rounds with a 5-1 thumping. I can’t deny that Spain enjoyed huge success with tiki-taka but at the same time, I hated watching it almost as much as I despise Manchester United’s football style under LVG.
Who should City fans expect to see leave?
Yaya Toure – The moody African is a genius on the pitch one day and the laziest player the next. On his best day he will tear you apart and most other days he is anonymous. He’s also suffering from a case of extreme arrogance, think African Footballer of the Year awards 2015.
All the players with heavy first touches and less than perfect passing technique or work ethics.
Who might join?
Various sources are reporting that Pep will have a 150 million pounds to spend on arrival. At first it sounds like a lot but Pellegrini spent more than 100 million on De Bruyne and Sterling alone in 2015.
Pep signed Spanish legend Alonso from Madrid. He also sold the seriously talented Mario Mandžukić to Atletico Madrid so the door is wide open on what he might do. Rumours surround Messi and Manchester United’s Herrera but nothing concrete is known.
Personally, I can’t see Messi leaving the cushy life in Spain for the miserable Manchester weather. Players have seldom left Spain to be a success in England . The physical game in England scared Di Maria off to France where he can prance around in a one team league (not too different from Spain) and be a major success in a team who have only dropped 6 points from 96 on offer in their last 32 league games.
Only time will tell who joins and who leaves Manchester City, leave your opinions below or engage with us on twitter @runridedive.