My brother, an avid Chelsea fan, says he’s still “not convinced” about Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
This, of course, is due to the unconvincing manner in which the Citizens have gone about their business this season under the tutelage of their new manager. They haven’t been anything near convincing ever since that ten-match winning start to the campaign, and I too admit to that. In fact, they’ve been so bad that they’ve conceded four goals against some less-fancied opponents such as the struggling champions, Leicester City, and Everton.
Such results and City’s struggle to adapt to the style of play that has been demanded of them by their steadfast Catalan manager have been the cause for all the flak they, and Guardiola in particular, have been getting from the media and some football fans alike. In fact, my brother was happy to reiterate his hesitation about Guardiola after the draw against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, and he probably felt good doing it because he knows about my affinity for the Spaniard.
But all of this criticism is unwarranted, I believe. While it may be fair to question his true capabilities when he struggles with a very expensively-assembled squad that knows how to win the Premier League, I also feel that a lot of the critics have chosen to forget the fact that the man is in his debut season in the English top-flight, which many argue is the toughest league in Europe.
In fact I find it preposterous that the great Pep can be on the receiving end of such criticism when his previous successes have been so well-documented. For those who might have forgotten, this is the same guy who, in his maiden senior managerial stint – with Barcelona – won a jaw-dropping 14 trophies in just four seasons before securing back-to-back German Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich.
I’ve also heard the naysayers saying that his dominance in those two leagues was due to their lack of competitiveness, which for me is another invalid argument, given that they are both in the top five leagues in Europe.
Another detractor pronounced on national radio some two weeks ago that he doesn’t rate him, explaining that Pep’s success in Spain was inevitable given the star-studded team that he managed, which boasted the likes of Argentinian magician striker Lionel Messi when he was “at the peak of his powers.” While the point about Barça and Messi is indisputable, it is also rather naive to credit all of that glory only to the men on the pitch.
Managers obviously play a huge role in the success or failure of a team because they are the ones who are responsible for making all the critical decisions about, for example, who makes the matchday squad and who doesn’t.
So my advice: Judge not the Spaniard in his first season that is not even close to being over yet, but give him enough chance to prove himself, which, by the way, he said he would.
Because after all, Manchester was not built in a day.
*Picture taken from skysports.com.