Manchester City: Be Careful What You Wish For

Pep Guardiola-Manuel Pellegrini-Man-City

Have you ever heard the old clich├ę ‘Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it’? I am increasingly under the school of thought as this being applicable to Manchester City.

I have heralded Manuel Pellegrini in articles prior to this and, in the face of indifferent form, I mainly stand by that opinion. I always did (and still do) believe Manuel Pellegrini, what with his pragmatic style and expert media handling, is the perfect compliment of a Premier League manager; quite an astute man in deed both tactically and personally.

One man I believe to challenge the fibres of being a manager in this, the best league in the world, is Pep Guardiola; make no mistake this is a world apart than the guaranteed top two finish in the Bundesliga or La Liga. A horrendous campaign in Germany or Spain would see Josep Guardiola land in second or (god forbid) third as well as, say, the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. I suppose it is the irony of ironies that that is no different to where he finds his team-in-waiting, Manchester City.

For me, Pep has always had magnificent question marks above him. He has his critics, like anyone, and has answered most of them but they are not without a weapon to wield in the footballing media: they, quite rightly, accuse Guardiola of only inheriting what was, at the time of initiation, the best teams (by distance) in the respective theatres of war.

It is no secret that the Barcelona side of 2008 is by far the greatest club side of all time. Few times do I look at a team and think ‘I would genuinely fancy my chances of a league title as manager of that side’, and I reckon my mother would have a good shake at guiding the 2008 Barcelona side, what with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Abidal, to a title or two.

You can’t really say Pep Guardiola’s utopian ideology of passing football is responsible for a league title: for my money I think Guardiola is guilty of complicating football. He has created positions (accredited with the true development of the ‘false nine’ and ‘Anchor Man’ positions) and has furthered roles we’ve seen used prior to his footballing renaissance, such as the ball-playing centre-half and inside-forward role.

Guardiola can only manage a certain type of player and I am not certain the current roster of Citizens plays host to more than, say, four. Guardiola demands specific and minute details that he sees as the difference between victory and a loss (and, to his credit, few managers deplore losing quite like Pep).

He has been known to lambaste the fruitful Frank Ribery and the rapid Robben on the Bayern training pitch for being but a foot out of position. In layman’s terms if the ball is with Robben on the right then Ribery must be tight to the left so as to drag the full backs to the extreme and create space betwixt the full back and centre back for a skilled attacking play maker to make his home. Effective? Sometimes. Over-complicated? Infinitely. With the pressure on the ball that is found in England, quite simply, this will not work.

Well it is too late for City, now. Guardiola is inbound. His kid even has a school sorted such is testimony to Pep planning ahead and with Josep Guardiola will come big ideas that will never be fully integrated and eventually quelled given the short tenure of a Premier League manager.

How long do you give the media before they turn on Pep? I give them a fortnight before they expect his City side to be winning; and with the false reputation that looms large over the Etihad campus they will be under monumental pressure.

Their wish has come true and I believe they will regret rubbing the magic lamp.

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