METERAnchester City’s longest-serving coach was a far-away-born tactical innovator who pioneered the use of a retired center forward. Pep Guardiola will still have a long way to go to match the 13 years that the Indian Les McDowall, who won the FA Cup in 1956 and conceived the Revie plan, passed to the front of City but if he sees his new contract he will have it I have been there for seven, more than anyone but Wilf Wild, who saw the club during World War II.
Seven years at any club represents a remarkable achievement in the modern game, particularly one as historically prone to volatility as City and especially for Guardiola, 49, whose intensity was supposed to restrict the time he could spend on anyone. site. That may still become a problem, but equally no club has been created with such precision to meet the demands of a coach as City was for Guardiola.
Given the effort they made to turn the club into a Barcelona of the north, it is perhaps not surprising that Guardiola is being given a unique opportunity to build a second great team. There are few second acts in soccer: the tendency, as Mauricio Pochettino discovered, is to dispense with the coach once a team falls into decline, rather than give them a chance to rebuild.
City’s decline has not been as precipitous as Tottenham’s, and they still finished second last season, but 81 points represent a significant drop from the 98 and 100 they accumulated in the previous two seasons (even taking into account the fact that that Liverpool lead probably led to a slight loss of focus in the second half of the campaign). But that’s one measure of Guardiola’s achievement: In any context other than the immediate one, 81 points would seem like a very respectable tally.
Still, few coaches have managed to create more than one great team, something that can only be partially attributed to soccer’s impatience.
Only four coaches have won the English league title at more than one club. José Mourinho won it in two different stages at Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby created three great teams in the same club in a single season. Harry Catterick, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Arsène Wenger did it twice. But it is rare.
Until his humiliation in the FA Cup at Watford in 1970, Shankly found it almost impossible to break a team he had built, difficult to tell the players with whom he had enjoyed great success that there was no longer a place for them. For Guardiola, the renewal process has already begun. Vincent Kompany has left and Sergio Agüero’s contributions are increasingly limited. The arrivals of Rúben Dias and Ferran Torres are a step towards their replacement, although the biggest problem may be finding someone with positional awareness and tactical intelligence to replace Fernandinho at the rear of the midfield.
And then of course there is Lionel Messi. Inevitably the news of Guardiola’s two-year extension, together with Messi’s comments that he is “a little tired of always being the problem of everything” in Barcelona, and his dispute with the Spanish tax authorities, will renew speculation that could be linked. with his former coach at City when he becomes available on a free transfer next summer. Although there would be undoubted glamor for City to sign Messi, it is hard to believe that he does not present them with the same tactical problems that he causes Barça.
Despite all his ability and the goals and assists he has as guarantees, do you still (he turns 34 in June) have the legs to play on a side based on pressure? In Barcelona, Guardiola was a revolutionary. His pressure, allied to a radical possession game, changed what was understood as possible in football. But football adapts.
Opponents are no longer humiliated by having only 40% of the ball and losing discipline as Manchester United did in the 2009 Champions League final. And the nature of the pressure has changed: Jürgen Klopp’s German school , Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann have come to supplant the Spanish school (although Joachim Löw has been left behind). Klopp is the only manager Guardiola has faced more than five times who has a positive record against him.
That suggests that the city manager needs to at least adapt to some degree. Within certain parameters, he has been relatively flexible throughout his career, but 12 years is a long time in management. Very few are able to stay on top for more than a decade. The process of constant evolution is too exhausting.
That’s perhaps a particular problem for Guardiola given his peculiar intensity, who dropped players after three years at Bayern Munich and in his fourth season at Barcelona. That said, the complaints that were heard from certain players in 2019 were notably quieter in the summer that just ended.
Without success in the Champions League since 2011, there are still unfinished business for Guardiola. The decision to stay would always be his. After all, he is by far the most successful coach in City history, and even with all the investment they have enjoyed, the 100- and 98-point seasons are still staggering.
In a club built for Guardiola, who could realistically have replaced him?
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.