It’s 5pm on Saturday the 24th September. Manchester City have just completed their 9th consecutive win of the season and their 6th in the Premier League. Any pre-conceived doubts about Pep’s adjustment to life in England had been well and truly dismissed. It’s funny how much can change in just 3 and a half weeks.
Fast forward to Wednesday the 26th October and the picture now looks very different in the blue half of Manchester. Guardiola‘s men still sit top of the top of the table and in a qualification place within their Champions League group, however, find themselves without a win in five. The doubters have again crawled out the woodwork claiming Pep is naive to belligerently stick to his philosophy against the so called ‘bigger teams’. Robbie Savage stated he believed the Catalan manager should “fix City’s punctures and not try to re-invent the wheel“. For me, that statement in itself epitomises the short-sighted culture we carry in England when it comes to progressive tactics.
“I think about this, but the solution is never as good as my beliefs“. This was the first time we have seen Guardiola’s patience tested this season, defending his side’s style of play after a 4-0 defeat to former employers Barcelona at the Camp Nou. “I have won 21 titles in 7 years playing this way. That’s 3 titles a year“. The point that Pep is trying to make to Savage and co is that Manchester City is a long-term project. It may not bring instant results. He is trying to create a platform upon which the Citizens can build. You wouldn’t lay the foundations for a skyscraper before deciding to build a 2 story house.
The fact of the matter is when you try and change the culture of an entire club, mistakes will inevitably be made along the way. It’s hard, especially in a country where arrogance runs rife in conversations concerning an idealistic playing style. What Pep wants, is to make young players like John Stones and Raheem Sterling better footballers, encourage them to take risks. In England it is in our nature to preach safe, risk-free play, however, you will only reach a certain level by following such teaching.
Whether you agree with Guardiola’s style or not, to suggest he should adapt his methods to a more stereotypical English approach means you are missing the point entirely. Pep won’t let the media and fans short-sighted ignorance stand in the way of the long-term success his genius beckons to provide.