Pep Guardiola’s first year in charge hasn’t gone to plan and there are many reasons for that. In one of the most intriguing articles of the Pep era so far, Claudio Mauri of Argentina’s La Nacion has revealed what seems to be insider details of Pep’s first year as City boss, with several opinions from Guardiola’s close friend Marti Perarnau.
The article is in Spanish and we’ve summarised the main points.
– Pep is not surprised that City’s season is ending trophyless and knew the first year would be difficult, with players adjusting to his tactics and system.
– The transition from the Pellegrini era to the Pep era was poor in terms of player acquisition, and City did not buy some of the players Guardiola wanted, including Leonardo Bonucci and Alex Sandro from Juventus.
– Pep’s feeling is that City has a squad lacking leadership, and Perarnau believes the team need more character, personality and courage to avoid situations like the collapse against Monaco in the Champions League.
– Before Pep arrived, there was a consensus that a cycle was over, one that started with Roberto Mancini and ended with Manuel Pellegrini. 14 players were over the age of 30 and many were injury prone, so City decided on a two-stage overhaul, with around six going last year, and the second stage to follow this summer.
– The injury to İlkay Gündogan had a big impact on City’s season, because Pep planned to turn the German midfielder into City’s version of Xavi at Barcelona and Thiago Alcántara at Bayern Munich.
– When Silva is injured, it always shows, and the feeling is that when El Mago is absent, the team “dies”.
– While he is adored by everyone at the club, Sergio Agüero has not become the dressing room leader City had hoped for, because of his personality type. There is a feeling that he hasn’t performed in decisive Champions League matches, such as the semi-final against Real Madrid.
– Agüero will most likely start next season as second choice to Gabriel Jesus, and will have to accept he is no longer an undisputed starter. City have not completely ruled out selling Kun, but only clubs in China could take on a contract like his.
– Manchester City are reviewing their high salaries because the current structure is making it very difficult for them to sell players. Pablo Zabaleta almost joined Roma, but the Serie A club could not match his salary and the deal collapsed. The likes of Samir Nasri, Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala and Wilfried Bony also had to be loaned out on big salaries.
– Willy Caballero could get a new contract because he responded so well when called into the side in place of the struggling Claudio Bravo.
– Nicolas Otamendi will almost certainly remain at the club next season, despite centre-back being one of City’s weaknesses this year. Guardiola has noted an improvement in Otamendi’s passing this season.
– Five or six new signings will arrive in the summer and Guardiola has learned that in the Premier League, he needs a bigger squad than he usually prefers due to the competitive nature.
– Guardiola’s priority this summer is to sign two or three full-backs and solve City’s biggest problem area.
– Guardiola has not ruled out signing a central defender or a striker (Alexis Sanchez is his preferred choice).
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