“You invite him for a meal in a restaurant, hoping that he’ll forget about football, but 32 minutes later you can see his mind is already wandering.”
Manuel Estiarte is close to Pep Guardiola and his words sum up what is so special about the soon to be Manchester City manager. He lives and breathes football and will not stop until he achieves perfection.
Guardiola stole the spotlight on transfer deadline day with ease as it was announced he would take over from Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad stadium come the end of the season.
Manchester United fans will have cried themselves to sleep to the reality that their noisy neighbours could be about to get even louder.
He is a genius, a tactical obsessive and a man that promises success. The sound of City fans singing Blue Moon will rise to an even greater scale of recognition across the globe as all eyes prepare to turn towards a potentially dominant three years at the club.
19 trophies in six and a half seasons as manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich. You would certainly back him to continue such an incredible winning habit with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling at his disposal.
What does his appointment mean?
His success in what can be seen as short spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich will frighten City’s Premier League rivals and the rest of Europe.
The imminent arrival of Guardiola looks a logical and crucial move by the owners. He is the best chance of the club being able to compete with the very best and win the Champions League, which is what those behind the scenes are so desperate to achieve.
Manuel Pellegrini could leave as the club’s most successful manager, but hasn’t looked like the solution to the team’s European failures.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich benefited from Guardiola’s insistence on boasting a solid club overall, rather than focusing on the team. He will be great in helping youngsters continue their development and work towards earning a place in the first team- thereby creating a strong long term situation at the club and also making the most of the excellent youth team facilities.
His commitment to the job and ability to attract the world’s biggest stars means he can transform City into a club capable of dominating English football for the next five years.
In relation to this, the possibility of Arsene Wenger retiring at Arsenal within the next couple of years could immediately put the London club behind, while uncertainty surrounding the management at Manchester United and Chelsea again puts City in the best position looking forward.
What can he do for the team?
Discipline, high intensity pressing and penetrative attacking football.
Thierry Henry spoke earlier in the season about Pep’s ‘three p’s’- position, possession and play. Positional play will be so important for City in terms of creating a greater balance and turning them into a more difficult side to break down.
He will strive to make this successful to keep Sergio Aguero in goal scoring positions throughout matches and to allow David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne or perhaps someone else to roam freely and feed the space in front of them. He wants balance all over the pitch, which could foreshadow a summer transfer window where we see him bring in two more central midfielders and a new wide man.
His desire to impose a high pressing game could spell the end of Yaya Toure’s career at the club with the Ivorian looking increasingly immobile as time goes by.
The intense and fast paced attacking football he requires will play into the hands of an inevitably enthused Raheem Sterling, who will be delighted by the opportunity to play under the new coach. His use of wingers at Bayern Munich means Sterling could prove to be a key figure with his pace and energy setting him in good stead.
On the other side, Jesus Navas, despite his admirable work rate, doesn’t look to have the quality to take responsibility on the field and make a significant impact. The star studded names that will be on Guardiola’s transfer radar means he could be on his way out.
There will even be questions over David Silva’s place in the starting line-up. It will be interesting to see if the Spaniard can find some fresh motivation and energy that will see him control games once again. Guardiola could favour the youth and potential of Kevin De Bruyne, who is pushing Silva for the number 10 role.
Sergio Aguero should thrive under a manager whose previous clubs were known for creating lots of chances. Aguero would be a world class striker under anyone, making the fact he will be coached by Guardiola all the more intriguing. Just look at the way Robert Lewandowski performed under his guidance at Bayern.
Two new full backs will undoubtedly be something he looks into upon arrival. Neither one of Kolarov, Clichy, Zabaleta or Sagna offer enough going forward to keep their place in a Guardiola team and all look to be past their best.
Not an easy job…
For all the talk surrounding what Pep Guardiola can do for Manchester City and what he can win at the club, fans cannot for one second expect him to walk into the job and succeed with his philosophy straight away.
The Premier League is completely different to any league he has managed in before. Physicality and power are two traits that are quickly becoming important in England’s top tier, which is why we should also prepare for a new approach from him as a manager.
He has a lot to think about in terms of where he will spend the money and how he will set up the team. It will be the toughest challenge of his managerial career so far but possibly his most interesting.
Yes it will be a hard job. The bottom line is though that Manchester City have arguably the best manager in world football. Judging by the first line of this article, he will already be making plans.