Pep Guardiola backed to lead Man City to Premier League gloryby Mike Holden / 14 August 2017, 13:34Tweet
Pep Guardiola’s first season in English football was one to forget. The Catalan coach finished 15 points off the Premier League pace and was dumped out of the Champions League by Monaco in March, experiences far removed from anything he had encountered previously. But he stuck true to his principles throughout and starts afresh having addressed some glaring weaknesses in the transfer market. Ederson replaces Claudio Bravo in goal, while three veteran full backs have been replaced by younger models giving City much more pace down the flanks.
Introverted intuition is Guardiola’s dominant function. He’s a perfectionist who spends most of his life inside his own head, exploring ideas and trying to make sense of complex matters. He is a strong and flexible strategic thinker, driven by an impulse to correct anything that isn’t immaculate, but his behaviour can sometimes be seen as neurotic and over-analytical. He holds players to extremely high standards and those who show the greatest initiative from a tactical perspective tend to earn the most respect.
"The new players have come in and we know the kind of energy they have gives us a really good chance to fight for titles. We were not good enough (last season) and we haven’t made these changes for the short term. The average age of the players is so, so young. For the next five, six or seven years, they will be here. They are really good players. Good enough that it doesn’t matter who the manager will be. For Manchester City, that is the most important thing."
Despite never really competing for any silverware last season, City weren’t a millions miles away from the kind of success they crave. They set the highest standards in the middle of the park, dominating possession and chance creation in all but one of their 38 matches, but paid the price for a lack of composure at both ends of the pitch. Guardiola’s all-or-nothing approach is unforgiving when all the components aren’t up to scratch but City's improvement could be spectacular now that he count upon greater energy and better balance.