Pep Guardiola is only racing with Manchester City in the English Championship this year. After the worst start to his professional coaching career, the top-ranked Team has already scored 14 points after 17 games at Premier League leaders Liverpool. Is the Spaniard looking at a creeping end among the citizens?
It still reads unreal, but looking at the bare numbers it becomes clear that Manchester City will not be the favourites for Saturday night (from 6.30pm) against Leicester City. Since the end of October, the Foxes have scored six more points than the Skyblues, scoring six more goals and conceding six fewer.
The sensational champion of 2016 with eight wins from the last nine games is back on the big game, ManCity is battling the master and coaching lethargy.
The great title craving seems to no longer exist this season among the men around star coach Pep Guardiola – at least in the Premier League. Guardiola’s system sometimes seems deciphered, the team’s absolute control of the game and dominance have been lost time and again in recent weeks.
Guardiola admits: Not as consistent as recent years
The team manager himself recognised this, after the bitter 1-2 defeat in the City derby against Manchester United: “We are not happy to stay as consistent as we have been in the last two seasons. That’s the truth and man has to help the players. (…) Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Madrid and Juventus – these are the teams we are facing and the realthing is that we may not be able to keep up with them at the moment.”
The league title is virtually ticked off: “It’s unrealistic to think we’re going to catch up with them,” said the Spaniard, referring to the rivals of German head coach J-rgen Klopp, who is currently in another league kick-off. The focus in Manchester is currently on the second from Leicester as well as on the Knigsclass.
The six-time England champion’s fu-balleric problems lie both defensively and in own ball possession. Despite their recent win over struggling Arsenal, ManCity have conceded 19 goals – as many as Crystal Palace and three more than upstart Sheffield United.
The luncken of departed captain Vincent Kompany and the injury-related failure of Aymeric Laporte could not be closed. A real start-up is missing, especially in the back team.
Manchester’s opponents are always more often successful with merciless switching game, the stars in sky blue already left behind several times rather perplexed. As Kyle Walker recognizes in the Mirror: “The opponents probably snatched us.”
Real Madrid wait in the konigsklasse
It is Guardiola’s job to banish those energized ambitions of self-doubt in his team as quickly as possible. This was achieved for the time being with the youngest three mandatory match wins in the Championship, Champions League and League Cup. Especially the duel against Leicester City on Saturday night, however, gilds as a yardstick fer the next few weeks.
It no longer seems entirely certain that the ex-Bavaria coach will continue to work for the Skyblues every autumn over the summer of 2020. According to the latest English media reports, there is supposed to be an exit clause in Guardiola’s contract. The working paper will remain in place until 2021.
So even a run-back to Munchen in the world would have been drawn, although the 48-year-old himself would have wanted to stay in Manchester.
First of all, however, it is about the here and now. To save the season, ManCity must deliver after losing the Champions League. With Pep on the bench so far has been spestens in The End station.
This year’s edition includes Real Madrid in February, and Pep’s quarter-final is better.
Mats Yannick Roth