When Manchester City began life under Pep Guardiola by reeling off ten straight wins to open the season, anyone claiming that some in England would be calling him a fraud a mere four months later would have been immediately ridiculed.
Now, however, with City having slipped to fifth in the Premier League and coming off a stunning 4-0 loss to Everton, Guardiola has come under fire for the team’s sudden dip in form.
The Spaniard’s style of play, transfer policy, and ability to adapt to English football have all come under fire, and the word “fraud” has been bandied about.
Is the criticism deserved? As City fans rightly point out in this video uploaded to Copa90’s YouTube channel, many of the team’s current issues predate Guardiola’s arrival.
Previous managers have tried and failed to find defenders to play alongside Vincent Kompany, with Eliaquim Mangala’s £42m transfer sticking out like a sore thumb.
Moreover, given that City had been reportedly pursuing Guardiola for as many as two or three years before eventually landing him, the failure to build a squad that could play to Guardiola’s exacting standards lies at the feet of City’s upper management, notably sporting director Txiki Begiristain.
But this is not to say that Guardiola is blameless. Having inherited a squad low on quality defenders, the Spaniard’s only defensive purchase was the near £50m buy of John Stones, who has struggled so far at City. All the other players Guardiola bought in the summer were attacking players, which seems like a misguided transfer strategy.
The Spaniard is also responsible for the team’s goalkeeping situation. Insistent that he needed a keeper who was good with the ball at his feet, Guardiola forced out the long-serving Joe Hart and brought in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona.
The decision has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. Bravo’s save percentage in the Premier League is a woeful 55.4%. Against Everton, Bravo conceded four goals from four shots on target. His shakiness between the goalposts means a struggling defence is immediately punished for the slightest error.
Guardiola said this week that he is “maybe not good enough” for Manchester City. Can he turn the club’s fortunes around and live up to his own reputation as one of the world’s greatest managers, or will England prove a bridge too far for the 46-year-old?
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