An underwhelming first season for much-lauded manager Pep Guardiola’s first season in England, saw Manchester City fail to mount a Premier League title challenge, and early elimination from the Champions League. Following this summer’s spending, there is sure to be no room for disappointment again.
With a summer spending spree estimated to total around £200 million, the transformation of the Citizens into Guardiola’s vision has well and truly begun. The Spaniard has been successful everywhere he has managed, winning titles for both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as twice securing the coveted Champions League trophy for the Catalan giants.
However, with an array of talent available to him everywhere he has coached, including the likes of Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robert Lewandowski, it is hard to argue against the fact Guardiola has never yet managed a team not blessed with a superbly gifted squad of players. The same applies to Manchester City, as over the years the blue side of Manchester have overtaken their city rivals in terms of dominance.
Some of last season’s displays showed the qualities of Guardiola’s roster of players, with positive performances against their rivals for European qualification, Arsenal and Manchester United. However, all too often the team would slip up against an opponent they would be expecting to comfortably overcome, as an uncertain defence shipped far too many goals to mount a serious title challenge.
Guardiola has now had time to evaluate the team available to him, and has already analysed their strengths and weaknesses. The Spaniard has assessed the need for another option on the wing after the release of Jesus Navas, and the £42 million signing of the talented Bernardo Silva provides him with just that. Benfica shot-stopper Ederson has also been recruited too, after the release of Willy Caballero and the shortcomings of first choice keeper Claudio Bravo last campaign.
The manager also has targets to solve the full-back situation, after the release of long-term servants Paulo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy. City appear to be locked in negotiations with several players, with Guardiola wishing to complete the signings of Kyle Walker from Tottenham, veteran Dani Alves and left-back Benjamin Mendy.
All of these targets have been chosen carefully. The addition of Bernardo Silva to an already incredibly potent attack, including the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, has added further competition for a starting XI place, leaving their coach with plenty of choice for rotation across what is sure to be a gruelling campaign of demanding fixtures.
Dani Alves has played under Pep Guardiola before at Barcelona, and the Brazilian is sure to bring a winning mentality to the squad. With several La Liga titles under his belt, and three Champions League trophies, the veteran full back will compete closely with Kyle Walker for the berth at right back. The added bonus of the potential addition of the two players is Guardiola’s demands for versatility from his full backs. They are often expected to tuck into the centre of the pitch and bring an entirely new dynamic to Guardiola’s team going forward – and both full backs will offer this attacking threat.
Pep Guardiola will have been made fully aware of the heightened expectations for the forthcoming season. The Manchester City board have invested significantly in the Spaniard’s project, and will demand a significant improvement on a third place domestic finish and early elimination from Europe’s top competition.
But the biggest pressure will come from Guardiola himself. The Spaniard is a winner wherever he goes, be it a player or a manager. He has conquered at Barcelona and also succeeded at Bayern Munich, despite not being able to deliver a Champions League trophy to the Allianz Arena.
This new challenge at Manchester City is now in its second year of development. The first year could be viewed as a failure, or potentially a vital first stepping stone in securing Manchester City’s renewed dominance in England’s top division. Either way Pep Guardiola will be expecting to gain as many trophies as possible in the upcoming season, and further prove he truly is one of the elite managers in world football.