Does Pep Guardiola need to convince us all over again that he really is the real deal

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 09 April 2018, 10:04

IT IS said that a week is a long time in politics. Modern football has managed to squeeze that into four days.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola knows plenty about both subjects with his continued support for imprisoned Catalonian politicians from the touchline.

So, maybe it’s time some of the folks back home did something to show a bit of solidarity with a man suddenly fighting for his reputation.

Rewind to 7.45pm last Wednesday and Guardiola had it all in the palm of his hand. Premier League title wrapped up and favourites to win the Champions League.

Today he is going to be busy; busy trying to gee up a bunch of players who will be suffering a little from shellshock following a surprise turn of events which reminds us why football is revered as the beautiful game.

Guardiola and his previously imperious City have been royally turned over in the past few days. Firstly by Liverpool in that jaw-dropping 3-0 collapse at Liverpool, then by surrendering a 2-0 lead at home to Manchester United in the Premier League.

The only slight downside to us romantics is that they have been put in their place by two of the biggest teams in the country and not by West Brom or Southampton. That’s’ too much to ask.

We have Wigan to thank for that in the dear old FA Cup.

The title will be City’s this season of course. It is unthinkable that they can cock that one up from 13 points ahead. But all of a sudden Guardiola’s and his players’ mental frailties have been exposed.

From looking untouchable this time last week, City now look just a little vulnerable. They can be got at, as can Guardiola, who was consequently tetchy in his post-match press conference, having seen his FIFA X1 score video game goals, only to surrender a two goal lead Xbox style thanks to Paul Pogba.

It now looks as if Manchester City will end this season with the Premier League title and EFL Cup. To many clubs that’s fantasy land but for Guardiola it is the bare minimum. The League Cup is an afterthought and already forgotten about in the relentless pursuit of big trophies.

Guardiola’s old clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich are going great guns by the way.

Bayern have already won their annual Bundesliga and Barcelona sit 11 points clear at the summit of Spain’s La Liga with seven games left.

Both are odds on to progress to the semi finals of the Champions League – where we expect Manchester City to say goodbye to the prestigious tournament.

And it is from that point tomorrow night (Tuesday) when there may just be a glimmer of light for everyone else. That 11 game winning run last autumn suddenly feels a long time ago. The pessimistic notion that English football is set for years of toil under the yoke of City domination is not so apparent now.

We will find out whether that is true or not tomorrow night in the Champions League quarter final second leg at home to Liverpool.

If Guardiola can somehow overturn a 3-0 deficit and get City into the last four then he will have proved himself the best coach in the world. And everybody else may as well just pack up and go home.

Politics shocked us all with the EU referendum and football can do similar things. But one suspects the ‘leave’ vote will be for City tomorrow night in a vastly different sense to Brexit.

And that means Guardiola still has work to do convincing us he really is as good as the glittering CV he has accumulated in Spain and Germany, while still struggling to get to grips with the idiosyncrasy of England and its national sport.


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