by Andrew Doulton - 14th February.
Is Pep the Saviour?
So the news on transfer day was not the arrival of a player but the confirmation of a manager. Manchester City confirmed on the day whilst all the cameras were watching that they had got the most sort after manager in world football.
This has to been as a real statement from Manchester City as you can categorically confirm that any club in world football would have loved to have made this appointment, with the exception or Madrid maybe. You only need to look at the other teams in the Premier League and you can safely say Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal would have been interested in the summer. I guess the reported wages of £15m a year for three years, which is higher than any Premier League player and also a transfer budget that will blow any team out of the water must be quite attractive.
Obviously there is no disputing his coaching ability up until now as you can only judge what has been achieved already. He won 17 major trophies as a player and so far an impressive 19 as a Coach. This includes 3 La Liga titles, 2 Budersliga and 2 Champions League titles. If the season continues as it has done so far Bayern Munich should be able to provide Guardiola with a his third back to back Bundesliga titles and he could still go on to win the Champions League in his final game with the German giants.
It can be very hard to judge a manager when they have managed the 2 of the biggest clubs in World football. At both clubs he found himself surrounded with exceptional players, which any decent manager given a chance would have challenged for the very same trophies. It was only two seasons before his appointment that Barcelona won the Champions League and La Liga and he was blessed with a host of world class players. It was a similar situation when he arrived at Bayern Munich, as Munich under Jupp Heynckles had just become the first German side to win the triple (Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokel).
There were also a few other key observations when looking at the previous and current clubs that he has managed. The first was the amount of international domestic players that made up the core of the teams. This is where I believe Guardiola will encounter his first problem, as at City you only have Stirling and Hart of real quality.
The second is the quality of players at the clubs he has managed previously. At Barcelona he started of with the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, Eto, Henry and Yaya Toure. At Bayern Munich he started with the likes of Neuer, Lahm, Ribery, Robben, Schweinsteiger and Muller. Now I am not saying Manchester City are not a big club but they have injury prone stars Kompany and Aguero, and an ageing Yaya Toure. This will obviously be an issue but according to reports there will be allot of money to spend so it will be interesting to see who arrives at the Etihad.
The third observation is that each of the teams is that Barcelona and Bayern Munich had been dominating forces within their leagues long before Pep arrived. Although City have picked up a two league titles and some cups over the past four seasons the team that achieved that success has been ageing and needs a complete overhaul. There is also far more competition in the Premier League now that what he will have experienced in Spain or Germany where he was one of the big two in Spain and by the far the largest club in Germany. The Premier League has so much money now that even the smaller sides spent more than the entire La Liga within the winter transfer window. This is causing a change in the way the Premier league plays out with shock results coming on a regular basis.
The biggest positive that I can see when watching his teams is that he seems to get them playing even better than they were previously. This is obviously down to his management of the players but also the ruthless efficiency that he dispatches other teams. He seems to be able to install fear in the opposition before a ball is even kicked.
In summary you have to expect Guardiola to be a success at Manchester City with the large funds available, but he will need to work harder than ever to achieve it. He will also have to be clever in the transfer market, to build a team of stars that can go on to dominate the league for a foreseeable future playing his exciting style of football. We he be an instant success? We are not so sure! But if he is given the chance to lead the club long term, he will turn them in to the dominant side the owners crave.