Pep Guardiola has come to Manchester and Manchester welcomed him with open arms. Well the blue side anyway. The red side of Manchester watched with gritted teeth as the Spaniard was confirmed as the successor to Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City manager in January as his contract ran down at Bayern Munich. This was met with utter delight by the Manchester City and met with a sense of worry and envy with the other teams in the league as the Cityzens were acquiring the services of arguably one of the best managers in the world and even all time, as he guided the Catalan club to an unprecedented treble in 2008-09 as well as implementing the phenomenon of tiki-taka in his first season in charge of the first team. He managed Barcelona for 4 years before leaving in 2012, winning three La Liga titles, two Copa Del Reys, three Spanish super cups, two Champions League titles, two UFEA Super Cups and Two FIFA club world cup titles, meaning he amassed 15 titles within 4 years. He then moved on to Bayern Munich, where he took over the retiring Jupp Heynckes, who won the treble with Bayern. He spent 3 years in the city of Munich, winning 7 titles including 3 successive Bundesliga titles, however his stint was deemed unsuccessful as he failed to deliver on the sole purpose of why he was brought in, to win the Champions League, in which his team were knocked out of in the semi-finals in 3 successive seasons. The one thing above all else which sets Pep apart from the rest of the managers, is his obsession with tactics and the intricate details of play, which was evidently shown at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich as he converted Messi into a false 9 to devastating effect and used a 3-4-3 for the latter, implementing the change of Philip Lahm from right back to central midfield. He has come to Man City and instantly implemented his methods, which have caused much commotion and a media frenzy.
Pep’s tactics are always the centre of attention and this was no different when his first team was put out, which caused twitter to melt down. Silva in central midfield? Kolorov at centre back? Joe Hart on the bench? These questions flooded twitter timelines but were quickly answered and more as they went on a 11 game unbeaten streak before losing to Tottenham Hotspur 2-0. When it comes to how he’s changed how Manchester City and how they play, it blew the minds of many pundits and fans alike, although it should have been expected. In Guardiola’s philosophy he splits the pitch into two, which allows the front players to free flow and use their creativity to inter change and let them play their attacking football without having the think about tracking back to defend. When the ball is in their own defensive half, all players are expected to defend and try to win the ball back and once the ball is retrieved and has passed the halfway line, this is where Pep Guardiola’s tactics comes to prominence.
Once the spit is made between the defence and the attack, which allowed their attacking players like Aguero, Sterling, De Bruyne, Gundogan and Silva to attack fluidly with ease and within this Pep’s city philosophy, his full backs tuck into midfield when City are attacking, contrary to the common convection of the modern full back and even his previous Barcelona side, in which Dani Alves was at the forefront of their attack. This means that once Kolarov and Sagna tuck into central midfield, this is allows Fernandinho to tuck into defence to make a back three and provide defensive cover for John Stones, who is a ball playing centre back and likes to step out of the defence, which is good for the development for Stones. This defensive base created by Fernandinho dropping inside and the full backs coming into the central of the park allows their attacking players to flourish and when attacking, Pep Guardiola puts the impetus into his wingers to take the game to the opposition, which is evident in the resurgence of Raheem Sterling, sizzling form of Kevin De Bruyne as well as new recruit Nolito, who’s started well in his new life in the Premier League. The move of David Silva to central midfield was met with skepticism due to his lack of dominating demeanour and defensive prowess but much like fellow countryman Santi Cazorla who made the same transition. However, Silva’s has excelled in the centre of the park, again another player who has been rejuvenated by Pep who was substandard last season.
In addition, Pep Guardiola has made some massive changes and drastic squad decisions which were highly criticized, scrutinised and questioned upon such as the decision to rid fan favourite Joe Hart and loan him to Torino, pretty much exile Yaya Toure from the squad as well as ship out Mangala, Samir Nasri and Wilfried Bony to Valencia, Sevilla and Stoke City respectively. As much of a shock as it was for Pep to disregard such pivotal and vital players to City’s past successes, it isn’t the first time he’s shown ruthlessness in terms of trimming his squad to his perfect personnel. When he took over at Barcelona, he shipped out Ronaldinho and Deco, two players who were integral to Barca’s success under Frank Rijkaard as well at doing the same at Bayern as over the 3 years he sold the likes of Gomez, Mandzukic, Gustavo, Dante and Kroos. all of whom were vital to their treble winning success.
All in all, this current City side is nowhere near perfection for Pep Guardiola and we all know Pep is a perfectionist when it comes to his teams, which is a scary thought, considering how well they are already playing when that team is still not up to Pep’s liking and standard.