Pep Guardiola v Arsene Wenger

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 16 December 2016, 11:44

Who needs modern technology when old fashioned football provides unmissable entertainment seeing Wenger and Pep floundering, argues Andy Dillon (@andydillon70).

IN A WEEK when the controversial subject of video technology reared its ugly head there have been some reminders of what is great about football the old fashioned way.

Pep Guardiola has finally admitted that his confidence has taken a bit of a knock and that managing over here is harder than people might think.

Given the somewhat erratic nature of Manchester City’s results this season we were all thinking that anyway.

And just three days after Arsene Wenger basks in the afterglow of beating Stoke to go top of the table and declares there is ‘something in this team that is quite strong’ - Arsenal get beaten at Everton.

The way English football can ground even the biggest names is unique.

Wenger and Guardiola go head-to-head on Sunday: the elder statesman of the Premier League against the latest foreign recruit to test his credentials as a coach in the world’s most ferocious league.

It’s weirdly refreshing that even the longest-serving manager still doesn’t know everything while the newest is certainly learning a thing or two as he gets to grip with the rabid tribalism and spectacular volatility that can trip up even the best coaches time and again.

For Wenger this has been a particularly despairing week.

Understandably he was delighted to see Arsenal move to the top of the pile on Saturday evening after his team came from 1-0 down to beat Stoke 3-1.

The time at the top was short lived, less than 24 hours in fact, but it was welcome and a huge psychological boost to a manager who has been frequently accused of buying players who are too soft to stay the distance.

He told me after the game: “There is something in the team that is quite strong, but after that we have to keep the spirit. The spirit as well is quite fragile you know, we have to keep the energy in the side, the team energy in the side, and everybody has to take care of that.”

How prophetic. For just 72 hours later he would watch that fragile spirit crumble on a damp December night in Liverpool in a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park.

For City it has been just as awkward even if the circumstances reversed. A dreadful 4-2 defeat at Leicester followed by minor redemption with a 2-0 win over Watford.

Guardiola has previously worked in Spain and Germany. In one League it is a toss of a coin every August for who wins the title and in the other they just post the trophy straight to Munich before a ball is even kicked.

Now he is discovering that over here we do things a little differently - in much the same way as the population stunned the world by voting to leave the EU.

Sunday’s showdown between two teams which are a joy to behold on the pitch at times but equally spectacular in the way they implode from time to time will be fascinating.

There’s only going to be one winner - and that’s ruthless Chelsea as they sit on top of the table and ominously roll on towards May - six points clear at the moment.

Arsenal and City’s failings would not greatly be affected by the introduction of video technology of course but their troubles are pertinent reminders that modern is not always better.

Leaving English football to what it does best sometimes is the right way to go.

Let’s rejoice in the fact that everyone except Chelsea at the moment is living on a knife edge. That we really do not know what is going to happen to our team in every match.


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