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THE CITY THAT PEP BUILT

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are one of the most formidable pairs in world football. Since joining the Cityzens in 2016, Guardiola has completely changed the English landscape.

Barring his debut year, Guardiola has led City to five consecutive top-two finishes. That run includes three Premier League titles and is well on course for a fourth. The Champions League has remained out of reach but logic dictates it’ll arrive soon. Guardiola looks very at ease with City and has even hinted at staying on till he retires.

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He has managed two of Europe’s behemoths before in Barcelona and Bayern Munich. With the Blaugrana, he won every trophy on offer including a record six in one year. The Bavarians brought a new challenge for him, but he aced that incredibly well even if their performances in Europe were not up to the mark.

However, there are a few key reasons why Guardiola has reinstated his desire to stay with the Cityzens time and again.

 

Toughest league

Let’s face it, the Premier League is the hardest league to call. Not because of the variety of its champions (five clubs have won in the last 10 years), but because of who among them can get to it. Leicester City’s improbable 5000/1 odds win of the title in 2015-16 is quite possibly the greatest feat in English football. Liverpool won their first league crown in 30 years last season with a whopping 18 point gap over City.

 

 

To put that into context, Guardiola won the La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup in his debut season of 2008-09. A record that made him the youngest manager to do so, which still stands. With Bayern, he won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup in 2013-14. The man is a serial winner in his debut season at a club. Or so we thought.

 

 

Joining Manchester City in 2016, he won exactly…zero trophies in his first season. It was the first time this happened ever. Guardiola himself stated that he realized realized “how difficult it is” in England. That kind of a barren season fueled the ultra-competitive manager into making things right the following season. City ended 2017-18 atop the league with 100 points(a record) and also won the League Cup.

 

 

Since the early years, it has been an absolute grind for Guardiola and City to win. The Premier League environment is such that you cannot take your opponents lightly. Liverpool are a serious threat, Chelsea and Manchester United have been in the past and will return sooner rather than later.

All of this is in sharp contrast to his previous experiences. In Spain and Germany, it has been mostly his team dominating the country’s landscape year after year. 

 

Germany is even worse. Bayern have absolutely no worthy competitors in the league because they are the undisputed biggest club in the land. Their financial ability to buy and prie away top players from within the country and abroad has seen them build up a juggernaut of a machine. This is evidenced by the fact that they wrapped up 2020-21 by winning their NINTH consecutive Bundesliga crown. 

 

 

Meanwhile, 2020-21 was described by Guardiola as the “hardest” he had ever won, given the fact it was a rebound year after losing the last term and dealing with the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Financial might

Guardiola has been an avid spender with City. Backed by Abu Dhabi ownership, Guardiola has spent €443.3m in the past four seasons alone. He has not found that kind of financial backing before in his past clubs. Hence, the boss knows that to keep an ultra-competitive team year after year, he will get the players he needs.

 

 

Barcelona were never the heaviest of spenders in the market during Guardiola’s period of dominance. He mostly used the stalwarts of a settled core that included Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta ,and Lionel Messi. The splashiest signing was Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2009 for Samuel Eto’o and €46 million, which went down in infamy. 

 

franck ribbery, arjen robben
Image credits: Bundesliga.com

 

At Bayern, he had superstars at the ready in the shape of Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Philip Lahm, Thomas Muller, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. In fact, they were the dominant side in the league all throughout his time regularly winning the league weeks in advance. The arrival of Robert Lewandowski in his second season at the club was also on a free transfer.

 

 

However, things have been very different at City. The current first-team squad has only FIVE players who were there before Guardiola joined. Under the Catalan, numerous high-profile signings have been made, all of whom are regulars now and have propelled City to the Premier League title time and again. The names he has transferred in are immense, with Ederson, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel J,Jesus and of course, Ruben Dias being the backbone of their most recent triumph. 

 

 

In fact, even during the interview of him stating that he is not leaving, Guardiola also mentioned how he has already started planning with the board on how to best go about the upcoming transfer window, which can only mean one thing- more signings are a surety. Furthermore, wantaway Spurs talisman Harry Kane is the favorite to join the current champions. 

 

Talents galore

Under Guardiola’s stewardship, a lot of extremely talented players have come and gone. Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, David Silva have all played over the years. However, one player that is causing the most buzz for the manager and across the continent, is one of the main reasons why Guardiola will not be going anywhere.

 

 

Phil Foden, the academy graduate who has been with the club since 2008 and in the first team since 2018. Guardiola recently proclaimed that he had “never seen a player with his potential,” at 17-years-old when he started three years back.

2020-21 had been a breakout campaign for the generational talent, having made 48 appearances across all competitions which have led to 15 goals and nine assists. Guardiola has been left in total awe of the youngster who is odds on to become a generational star. 

 

Thus, we can see how it is a combination of interconnected factors that has led to him to this. Maybe when he joined the Cityzens in 2016, he had not planned to stay this long, but the enticement has been too good to turn down. With the prospect of another Champions League to be won, the bond between club and manager is not breaking soon.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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