The influence of Pep Guardiola is gradually being felt in Manchester City. First, they have maintained a 100% record; so far, only Manchester United has the same bragging rights. But at what cost for the players?
First, there is the sidelining. Players like Samir Nasri, Eiaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony are finding themselves shunted to one side. Even the legendary Joe Hart has found the water too hot for him to swim in. All these players look like thy’re leaving, and there’s already a tight race for first team. They’re not making any headway there.
Have you noticed how Manchester City players tended to get injured quickly under Manuel Pellegrini? There were times last season when the stability of the club was called into question, with so many of the first team regulars on the operating table. They recovered, however, and hung on to finish third. This season they already have some injured players (Ilkay Gundogan was bought from the hospital bed), which is not very convenient for Guardiola’s high-octane, possession-based style of play. I daresay some of these players will be sorely missed, though I trust in Pep’s tactical genius; he would pull something as unusual and spectacular as we have ever seen from his hat, and end up saving the day.
One other thing, the old confidence and swagger which characterized Manchester City in the old days is back. Last week’s match against Stoke City was a good reminder; when they do everything right, City are a devastating side, and a terror to face. Against Stoke, from kick-off, they bossed proceedings, and were 2-0 up at halftime. But the match threatened to go in the opposite direction at the beginning of the second half, when Bojan Krkic converted a penalty. But the City players rallied, and eventually put two more past the staunch Stoke defence. That’s what I’m talking about, and it came courtesy of the brilliance of one dude.
Guardiola is quite a brilliant coach, and he is bringing the Manchester City fear factor back. Question his methods all you want, but the fact still remains that Guardiola has never failed to win in any of the clubs he has worked in. That is more than good news.