Manchester City – the epitome of Guardiola’s achievements

Manchester City – the epitome of Guardiola’s achievements

They play swashbuckling football; it is endearing, it is entertaining, it is effective. There is no disputing the sensationalism that is Manchester City at the moment – the statistics speak for themselves. They have scored 45 goals in 15 games across all competitions this season, winning all but one, a 1-1 draw against Everton on August 21, 2017. They have 11 different goal scorers this season, including Sergio Kun Aguero, whose goal against Napoli in their 4-2 UEFA Champions League win saw him become the club’s record holder with 178 goals. This has seen them go on a 13-game winning streak, consequently setting a new club record. And the list of endorsements of their blistering start goes on.

The English Premier League is not for the faint-hearted, but Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, is not a faint heart. He may not have immediately impacted the league standings in his first reason (finishing third), but he can be forgiven for that – forgiven for envisioning a bigger picture. From the very beginning, he set out his blueprint for success. Over two summers, he has chopped and shaped his roster to the requirements not only of his meticulous and innovative tactical formations but the demands of the league.

In his previous experiences, Guardiola has never experienced such a resilient league capable of outsmarting him. And in the English Premier League, he almost found his first – but he enjoyed the challenge.

“I try to adapt to English football in the way I believe… I’m not going to change England and I don’t want to do that. Of course, it’s going to change me. That’s why I came here — to be changed,” he was once quoted saying.

And to his tremendous credit – yet again – the statistics are a testament to this: five of the league’s top passers are Manchester City players. The fact that Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones, two defenders the Spaniard has relied on to deliver his philosophy of carrying the ball out from defence and building attacks from the back, is refreshing. His persistence on possession football, which has on numerous occasions proved almost futile in games, has not deterred the tactician to abandon it – City have completed 7,300 passes this season, with Arsenal coming in second, having registered 6,290 passes.

It is their scintillating brand of football that has excited many, including Germany international, Ilkay Gundogan.

The midfielder said the club was playing ‘special’ football, going as far as likening the current Etihad side to the Bayern Munich and Barcelona teams that shone under the light of Guardiola.

“The way we play, the way we dominate opponents, it feels special… The domination is like Bayern, yes, but it’s a different kind of game… Maybe the most similar team would be Barcelona at their best with Pep,” he was quoted saying.

And right he is; their build-up play, augmented by precise short passes bodes well for an attack-minded outfit who threaten to nestle the ball into the net with every torrent of attack. And key to their play and the tirade at goal is their purposeful patience on the ball. As a consequence, they have recorded the most touches in the league thus far – 9,102. Yet again, Arsenal came in second, with 8,136 touches to their name.

So, 10 games into the season and with 84 more points still up for grab, Manchester City still have a long way to reclaim the trophy they last won in 2013/14 from the grasp of Chelsea. However, as the club legend, Mike Summerbee said, “What I’m seeing now is close to perfection.”

Despite their dominance, in the most unthinkable of circumstances – at least at this moment – should Manchester City fail to lift the title, there remains no reason for despondency. Guardiola has done it, he has established an exciting brand of football ‘close to perfection,’ and winning the league will be inevitability – it is just a matter of when.

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1 Comment

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