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From City, who was before Guardiola, only De Bruyne remained. The evolution of Pep’s team

Date: March 4, 2024 Time: 01:20:29

Manchester City will fight today for the second final of the Champions League. For Pep Guardiola, this is another great challenge in his career. After all, with City, everything was submitted to him, except the European Champions Cup.

Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in 2016 and since then has completely rebuilt the team, turning it into a miracle: polished and perfected, working with almost perfect mechanical synchrony, in short, almost perfect. This season has shown that City resists, but very difficult: Pep managed to take the players to an almost unattainable level of psychological, physical and tactical superiority. After the game with Arsenal, many English media recognized this: yes, the London club was very good throughout the season, but at the decisive moment they failed and still proved incapable of making the title race a reality, not an illusion .

What is unique about Pep – in the column of Gregory Telingater

Guardiola has already changed football. It doesn’t matter if Man City have a treble or not

Of course, Pep hasn’t always been solo first, but in the seven seasons he’s been in charge of City, the club has been four-time champions, twice taking the lead in the second part of the season (it will now be the third ). He is well versed in player interaction issues and knows when to control them and when to give the right amount of leeway. Guardiola is called not only a tactical master but also a psychological one, and this is one of the most important components in the founding of the City. The foundation he laid when he joined the club…

There is no point in arguing that City’s success has been fueled by the club’s resources, both in the long term and, more importantly, in seasons when fatigue and injury take their toll. The depth of the composition allows for rotation and this, in turn, helps not to fall out of the race for gold. Guardiola is not trying to deny the reality that he has all the resources to pick the best players for himself. “We have a lot of money to buy incredible players,” he said. – Without good players we will not be able to win. But to be honest, Manchester United also spends money, and Chelsea also spends money. Barcelona spends a lot, Real Madrid spends. In all the big clubs that have had incredible success, in all the teams in South America, in Europe, in the big clubs, it has to do with the quality of the players, the mentality.

When Pep arrived at City, the team’s average age was over 29; no Premier League club had that age composition. Now of the team that he was before he only remained Kevin De Bruyne, whom City acquired for £55 million (the year before Guardiola’s arrival).

Even before Pep arrived in Manchester, lists of who would leave first, and who Guardiola would take in his debut season, began to appear. And Guardiola did not hesitate – the first transfers came a couple of days after the official announcement of the new head coach. Nine players eventually joined, including Ilkay Gundogan for £20m, John Stones for £47.5m, Leroy Zane for £54.8m and Alexander Zinchenko (for less than £2m). All the new manager’s requirements were met and the team started strong, with an opening six consecutive Premier League wins. However, by the winter, City fell behind Chelsea, jumping from third to fifth place. Guardiola was losing the image of a genius who was given the best players and money for transfers; neither new tactical ideas helped (he used eight different schemes in 38 games in total), nor did his past victories. He was criticized, but he also criticized himself: in winter he said that expectations for him were too high and that perhaps he was not yet that good for City; in the spring – that he is trying to adapt to English football, but so far he has not succeeded.

At the end of the season, Guardiola was left without a single trophy for the first time in his career: Chelsea became champions (City took third place), in the FA Cup City were knocked out at the semi-final stage by Arsenal, The League Cup ended for Pep in the fourth stage (MJ continued), Champions League – in the 1/8 stage (6: 6 with Monaco, the French reached 1/4 thanks to the goal rule visitor). “If I fail again, the club will execute me,” Guardiola said after the end of the season.

However, there were still improvements: Pep’s team scored more (80) and conceded less (39) than Pellegrini’s (71-41). But it was not enough.

Pep Guardiola. Spring 2017

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The summer of 2017 was a busy one as Pep decided to make massive changes to his defense and goalkeeping. It was important to him to find a goalkeeper who could play with his feet. Neither Joe Hart, nor Willy Caballero, nor Claudio Bravo, who ended up being a real disaster for City in the first season, fit this philosophy. The £34.7m signing of little-known Ederson from Benfica that summer was a risk (and indeed he was grossly and bizarrely wrong at first), but in the end the Brazilian became the number 1 in Guardiola’s new team . And he still is.

That summer, the club invested in two full-backs, breaking the record for transfer fees for players in that position twice in one week: City snapped up Kyle Walker from Tottenham for £45m, then spent another £52m. sterling on the left side. “Monaco” by Benjamin Mendy. Real Madrid signed centre-back Danilo for £26.5m, who later became one of the most important assets in the defensive line. That same summer, the “old guard” left in the person of Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy, Bakary Sagna and Pablo Sabaleta. At the same time, they got rid of Nolito, which was bought last summer for 13.8 million pounds.

After a massive roster shakeup (biggest entry ever under Guardiola), City won their first league title under Pep with 100 Premier League points. The next goal was the Champions League, which did not work out that season: City could not get past the quarterfinals, taking off from Liverpool. Since then, Pep has had 10 more cups on the shelf with trophies, but one is still missing: in the 2021 final, Chelsea left the “ears” trophy, leaving Guardiola and City again with a dream.

Pep more Champions = difficult relationship

“If I win the Champions League three times in a row, I will still be a loser.” Guardiola’s main curse

In total, 47 players have joined the squad since Guardiola joined City – £1.1bn was spent on transfers. Only Chelsea have spent more among the top 6 clubs in the Premier League during this time. But at the same time, in terms of net expenses (the difference between costs and revenue), MS is second only to Liverpool (-£455.1m and -£219.75m, respectively). This suggests that, with all the huge costs, the club still wins: either by reselling players who don’t fit into the team, or by giving away youngsters. At the same time, Manchester United, with purchases of £1.078 billion, remained in the red at £825.65, and this is definitely not the best example of the sports department’s work.

City rarely make mistakes with players. Cheeky Begiristain, Manchester City’s sporting director, who worked in Barcelona until 2012 and then moved to Manchester, plays a big part in the success. A great merit in the fact that Guardiola has managed to build such a team belongs to him. They are very close and, by the way, together they see Johan Cruyff as a deity.

“As a person he is at his best, and in football there aren’t that many,” a source told The Athletic. – One of his greatest strengths is analyzing the situation and making the right changes, either for the team or for others. He knows what the coach needs, which players he should sign.”

Begiristain watches a large number of games and is in constant contact with Guardiola’s assistants, who compile player interest lists, focusing on data that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of City’s existing players. He often accepts what is asked of him, and his opinion is often almost indistinguishable from Guardiola’s. “If you’re talking to Chicky, you’re basically talking to Pep,” said a city executive.

Chicky Begiristain and Pep Guardiola

Photo: Matteo Ciambelli/Getty Images

Of course, it is easy to attract players to a club where one of the best tacticians in the world works, where they are willing to pay and guarantee success: this is attractive to all professionals. But, as Guardiola himself said, many Premier League giants can afford to buy players, and the graph above shows that not only City invested huge amounts of money in transfers. The uniqueness of the restructuring carried out by Guardiola lies elsewhere: in his integrated approach to work at different levels. Also, he is not afraid of innovation; for example, he invited a person with an astrophysics education to work with data analytically.

What went wrong in the first game against Real Madrid:

Real Madrid went to another mocking victory in the Champions League. But the City punished unexpectedly

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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