Why Manchester City will never be the same after Pep Guardiola’s arrival

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Image Courtesy: © Gettyimages

Why Manchester City will never be the same after Pep Guardiola’s arrival

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Rohan Phatak

06/03/2016

The announcement of Pep Guardiola’s appointment as Manchester City manager was probably the highlight of the year for the Manchester City supporters. After a 4th place finish in the EPL and a Champions League semi-final exit, City will be more than excited about the former Barcelona manager’s arrival at the club. But as the Spaniard prepares for what is anticipated to be the biggest challenge of his career, he must surely have some changes in mind in order to make his time in the Premier League a success.

Pep Guardiola has managed only two clubs in his short managerial career. But both the clubs he has helmed were of astounding scale, and he has undoubtedly matched and maybe even exceeded expectations of him, in both Germany and Spain. At Barcelona, Guardiola saw resounding success and etched his name in the already illustrious history of the club by winning every trophy he competed for. The humongous success at Barcelona was followed by a three-year spell at Bayern Munich. Guardiola managed to take Jupp Heynckes’ legacy forward by winning three back-to-back Bundesliga titles and managing to take the team to the Champions League semi-finals in all the three seasons. Though, a few critics consider his Champions League performance with the Bavarians below par, he nevertheless has done an enviable job in Germany. Succeeding success remains the biggest challenge for any football club, or manager, and Pep has done exactly that.

It will be fair to say that Pep Guardiola introduced the world to a highly dominant style of play where passing the ball around came as naturally to the players as scoring centuries came to Sachin Tendulkar. Barcelona and Bayern Munich both displayed a style that was highly inclined on keeping the ball, passing it around and scoring lots of goals. With the firepower available upfront in the form of Aguero and the amount of cash Manchester City will be ready to splash in the upcoming transfer window, Pep will undoubtedly be planning to implement a similar philosophy in the Premier League. However, in order to do the same, Guardiola will without an iota of hesitation make some heavy changes in the current Manchester City squad which defintely needs to be revamped.

(Also Read: Manchester United | Five players who could get the boot from Jose Mourinho)

Here is a position wise look at the changes Guardiola should, and possibly will, make to the City squad in order to implement his style of play and get the best out of his team.

Goalkeeper

Joe Hart is a magnificent keeper and his performances, in the seasons passed by, have been remarkable. It is unlikely that the Englishman will have anyone threatening his position in the starting 11 at least for the first season of Guardiola’s term. As a matter of fact, Joe Hart should be the most relaxed players of the current lot and be assured of his place in the incoming manager’s plans. However, Willy Caballero should start planning a future elsewhere as the former Malaga man is bound to be axed sooner rather than later, and Guardiola will be eager to bring in a fresh face to compete with Hart and keep the Englishman on his toes. Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been linked with a move to the Citizens but it is unlikely that he will accept to be a second fiddle to Hart. Pep will in all probability go for a promising young keeper to give Joe Hart competition.

(Also, read to find out who has been the best goalkeeper in Europe this season)

Defence

Pep Guardiola’s biggest challenge lies in revamping the Manchester City defence, which has been their weakest point last season. Kompany’s injuries and the frequent incompetence of new signing, Otamendi have proved to be costly for Pellegrini, and Guardiola will be keen to avoid a repeat of the mistakes made by his predecessor. The likes of Demichelis, Zabaleta and Kolarov are nowhere near world-class anymore, and are likely to be ousted from the team by Guardiola. A new centre-back is likely to come in and Aymeric Laporte, who is heavily linked with the club, might just be the one to give Mangala and Otamendi a run for their money. A fresh full-back pairing must also be a priority for Guardiola and he will be looking to bring in players such as Daniel Carvajal, Sime Vrsaljko and Aaron Cresswell. Sagna, who has given some decent performances this season is likely to stay with Gael Clichy to provide cover for the incoming full-backs. However, both the former Arsenal players are unlikely to get regular playtime.

Midfield

The midfield area has always been the backbone of Pep Guardiola’s previous sides. At Barcelona, he brought the best out of the Xavi-Iniesta pairing, and at Bayern Munich Xabi Alonso proved to be a vital figure in the centre of the midfield. Similarly, Guardiola is bound to be inclined towards improving the Manchester City midfield. The first player that might be shown the door is Yaya Toure. The 33-year old is beyond his prime and might face the same fate he did at Barcelona when Guardiola was at the helm. Fernandinho and Fernando are likely to stay for at least the first season of the Spaniard’s term. However, both will have to fight hard to impress their new manager. Players with admirable ball distribution abilities will most likely be scouted by Guardiola, and he will be looking to bring in a couple of talented passers in the summer transfer window. The likes of Paul Pogba, Koke and Jack Wilshere have all been linked to Man City, but the English club have already signed Ilkay Gundogan, who will fit in Guardiola’s plans perfectly. Thiago Alacantara may also follow the manager from Bayern Munich as he remains a Guardiola favourite right from his days at Barcelona.

(Also, read about whether Jose Mourinho & Manchester United are a match made in heaven or doomed for hell?)

The former Bayern Munich manager will also be considering getting rid of Samir Nasri as the Frenchman has, over the last season, shown signs of being past his prime. Jesus Navas and Fabian Delph may stay but both are unlikely to find their names in the starting 11. Guardiola will be looking to bring in a new attacking midfielder/winger to the side in the summer. Someone like James Rodriguez or Isco could be brought in to provide competition to the likes of David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.

Forwards

It will be unrealistic to expect Guardiola to go to Manchester City and try to replace one of their best players in Sergio Aguero. The Argentine will play a vital role in Guardiola’s plans and is sure to stay for one more season. Another player that will stay is the 19-year- old starlet, Kelechi Iheanacho. However, despite scoring 13 goals in just 10 starts, the forward is unlikely to be a first-team regular anytime soon. Guardiola will be looking to replace Wilfried Bony though, with someone that will be eager to play and be good enough to take Aguero’s place whenever the Argentine is ousted from the side due to fitness concerns. The likes of Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang may attract some attention from Pep Guardiola in the upcoming transfer window.

(Also, read to find out whether Pep Guardiola’s stay in Germany be really labelled a success?)

With so many changes expected, and in the pipeline, Manchester City’s image makeover is about to start. The golden era that started with Mancini winning the league in 2012 is likely to reach its climax with Pep Guardiola.  

(Images Courtesy: © Gettyimages & Facebook - Ilkay Gundogan & Aymeric Laporte)

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