Ever since it was announced that Pep Guardiola was to be taking over from the, now-departed, Manuel Pellegrini, there was major hype that this was going to be a new golden era for Manchester City.
There were huge expectations at the start of the season and, with the introduction of big money signings such as Leroy Sane and John Stones, there was no reason for anyone to doubt that they would be favourites for the league title. In fact, many pundits might have put money on the Citizens to be serious contenders for the Champions League.
If you go by the start of the season, then you’d have thought that they were going to be the unstoppable juggernaut they had been billed to be. Having won every single game in the Premier League and Champions League through September, until a 3-3 draw against Celtic.
They were also able to win the bragging rights after a close win in the Manchester derby. However, as October reared its ugly head, City and Pep started to lose out to regular inconsistencies.
City were starting to draw games they probably should have won; they lost to Spurs in the league; they got smashed by Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League; and, to top it all off, they suffered a fourth round exit in the EFL cup to bitter rivals Manchester United.
It’s now people are starting to question where has it suddenly been going wrong.
The biggest problem lies in their defense. With their captain and stalwart at the back, Vincent Kompany, being injured for weeks on end, it has proven to be a hard time for the likes of John Stones, who remains very inexperienced at the top level. The young Evertonian has a long way to go until he reaches Kompany’s level.
But the biggest problem appears to be lying within the manager himself: Pep’s philosophy has always been to have attack-minded players. Look at his past sides, such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich, his free-flowing, build-from-the-back football style of football is evident even today.
Whilst in principle this tactic works, unfortunately it seems that Pep is finding that the Premier League is a lot different to the Spanish or German leagues. Perhaps unlike the Spanish and German leagues, the EPL is very much up for grabs among the top five or six teams. Bayern Munich, in contrast, have won the Bundesliga four times in a row, while Real Madrid and Barcelona dominate in Spain. The last team to win La Liga outside of Real, Atletico and Barcelona was Valencia in 2003/4.
As manager of Barcelona he certainly didn’t have to worry about the lower placed teams ever causing trouble. Because the same level of quality was never there – but exists in a league where Leicester City can triumph. Pep’s men are a bold 9/2 to win the Premier League and you can now also get free tips for Premier League 2016-17.
If Pep wishes to win a title this season, then he must understand that he has to build a solid defence. He has to understand you can’t send away a top class goalie like Joe Hart, just because he doesn’t fit in with his philosophy of pinpoint passing.
This has been proved by the way Claudio Bravo has struggled to adapt to the league so far this season.
Manchester City are and always will be major title contenders, but if they fail to shore up their defensive frailties, then it could end up being another season of disappointment for City fans.