Premier League title race playing right into the hands of Pep Guardiolaby Andy Dillon / 06 November 2017, 09:22Tweet
IT IS OFTEN the person who sits ringside who gets the best view and gets away without a scratch.
And that is precisely how it is panning out for a quietly chuckling Pep Guardiola, probably getting as much enjoyment out of watching his rivals fight among themselves as he does his own imperious football team.
Come May, Guardiola will simply stroll up and lift the Premier League trophy, without a drop of blood on his shirt and he will smile politely.
He should consider thanking all those around him for playing their part in saving his job during the victory speech.
That list includes Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino, the other managers currently filling the top four spaces in English football.
For they are making it so easy for Manchester City this year. Maybe even easier than Guardiola found it running the one-horse race as Bayern Munich boss or at one end of Spain’s duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
All the while Conte and Mourinho fight like cat and dog and while Chelsea and Tottenham go at it hammer and tongs it is all playing into Guardiola’s hands.
Over the weekend Conte and Mourinho were at it again; renewing a ten year mutual dislike by not shaking hands at the final whistle of Chelsea’s 1-0 win.
That victory was secured on the pitch by Alvaro Morata’s flying header but the simmering undercurrent of tetchiness between the bosses will resurface again when Chelsea go to Old Trafford in February with the distinct prospect of a home win for Manchester United. Just as it panned out last season.
The frostiness between Mourinho and Conte only plays into City’s hands.
When City rolled up at Stamford Bridge in September, there was no squabbling or bitchiness and Guardiola walked away with three points as calmly as you like. And that’s the difference.
In the same vein, Chelsea and Tottenham have invented a hatred for each other in recent seasons. It’s a lot of what the Chelsea fans sing about ; even cheering Spurs’ recent knockout blow in the Carabao Cup by West Ham at Stamford Bridge when they should have been focused on playing Everton.
Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Wembley put a huge dent in Tottenham’s title aspirations. Rest assured, the form book and all sense of professional responsibility will go out of the window when the two warring neighbours meet in West London at the end of March - a crucial period of the run-in.
Only this weekend we have heard from Tottenham’s excellent young midfielder Eric Dier in a candid interview, revealing how he has had to patch up his relationship with boss Pochettino.
The Argentine was unhappy at seeing his player bear-hugged by Mourinho in the tunnel after a game last season, sensing disloyalty amid rumours of interest in his player from The Special One.
Yet Pochettino himself has just released an autobiography in which he publicly takes down people to sell a few books - is this really the right time to be going round upsetting anyone?
Yes, City are good but they really don’t have to be when everyone else around them is fighting among themselves.
Jose hates Antonio, who can’t stand him either. Mauricio falls out with his own players and they really don’t like that Chelsea lot. Jose has had a pop at his own supporters.
Meanwhile, Guardiola sits and drums his fingers on his desk and waits to pick up the title come May and gets to keep his job.