Yesterday we debuted our new City Watch Vox Pops feature, with part one of our take on what Pep might do to the City team upon his arrival. Three of our writers shared their views, and today another trio step on to the soapbox. Our writers are very opinionated, and one even has controversially replaced Joe Hart as number one!
What do you think and what would your ideal Pep XI be? Share your comments below or on Twitter. One more group of writers will conclude our opening City Watch Vox Pops tomorrow.
Navas — Kompany — Mangala — Clichy
Weigl — Busquets — Silva
De Bruyne — Aguero — Iheanacho
There is no question that a significant overhaul is required in the short-term but I suspect many Blues will be disappointed by the small number of changes made this summer. Pep will favour evolution over revolution and while it will be frustrating not to see a welter of new arrivals at City I’m excited by what he will do with Raheem and Fernandinho and intrigued by how he will seek to improve Mangala and Bony.
A fifty million splurge on Stones or a stupendous bid for Lewandowski cannot be discounted of course but I believe Pep will view his first transfer window as an opportunity to move on players past their prime or – in Fernando’s case – not mobile enough to adapt to a high-intensity midfield mandate. We can expect the squad to be slightly trimmed too with our most promising kids – both Garcias and Celina among them – to be integrated throughout the opening season.
Squad players retained will undoubtedly include Sagna, Nasri and Delph and it will be fascinating to see how Pep utilises Jesus Navas. It’s been commented on before that Guardiola is a coach who likes to throw a curveball or two, left-field thinking that re-imagines a player’s contribution. I think Navas is a leading candidate for this, a player with searing pace, diligent work-rate and able to assimilate a coach’s demands but who is woeful in front of goal and can resemble a headless chicken when roaming. A right-back? You heard it here first.
The most high-profile exit will presumably be Yaya, a departure that will dominate the back pages throughout the summer, and he will be joined by Caballero, Demichelis, Zaba, and Fernando.
Incoming will surely include stiff competition for Hart while we can confidently expect a new-look midfield.
Denayer — Kompany — Otamendi — Gaya
Fernandinho — Xhaka — Silva
Sterling — Aguero — De Bruyne
Xabi Alonso once said that “tackling is not really a quality, it’s more something you are forced to resort to when you don’t have the ball.” I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a direct quote from his current manager, Pep Guardiola, whose footballing philosophy adheres to the same principle.
Ball possession and retention will be prioritised next season. Yaya Touré is a fantastic passer of the ball, but at 32-years-old and with his agent already swinging digs at the incoming gaffer, I think he’ll be replaced. Mönchengladbach’s Granit Xhaka, nine years younger than the Ivorian and a player currently averaging 22 more passes per game, has already issued City with a ‘come and get me’ plea and would be an excellent addition to the squad. With Xhaka (a deep-lying playmaker), Fernandinho (a box-to-box workhorse with great technical ability) and David Silva (a creative player that rarely loses the ball), we have an incredibly balanced midfield.
However, Fernandinho and Silva, both 30, will need some competition. Dortmund’s İlkay Gündoğan is expected to leave Signal Iduna Park at the end of the campaign and Pep is a known admirer of the German. A move for him or Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante would get my approval.
As for Fabian Delph and Fernando, they don’t strike me as players Pep will be excited about working with. Delph will probably stay to ensure the homegrown quota is met, but there’s really no need to keep Fernando who is extremely limited in what he can offer.
After Pep has sorted out the midfield, he’ll turn to the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov is likely to be the first of the current back line to depart and Pablo Zabaleta (sadly) could follow him out of the door. In Pablo Maffeo and Angelino, Pep has promising options from the academy to choose from, but I’d expect him to make use of the returning Jason Denayer before turning to either of them. Clichy’s home-grown status means he’ll probably stay and I wouldn’t rule out of a move for Valencia’s 20-year-old left back José Luis Gayà who’ll want out of the Mestalla when they narrowly escape relegation at the end of the season. David Alaba would be the dream, but I’m not sure even City have the money to prise him away from Bayern.
As for Mangala and Otamendi, they’ll stay. Pep loves a project, after all.
Up top, there will be more departures than arrivals. Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas will probably leave, leaving a front three of Sterling, Agüero and De Bruyne. Kelechi Iheanacho, Bersant Celina and Aleix Garcia have all made tremendous progress this season and deserve to be considered as back ups.
Sagna — Kompany — Laporte — Gaya
Pogba — Weigl — Fernandinho
Sterling — Aguero — De Bruyne
Arguably the most dynamic and demanding coach out there, Pep Guardiola will make some ruthless changes at Manchester City. Looking through the squad, you can immediately pinpoint some players and question their long-term futures. Pep likes his sides to be full of energy, able to press the opposition for ninety minutes. In terms of personnel changes, I think the club will be in the market for a central defender. Demichelis is leaving at the end of the season, and with Mangala’s erratic form, I think the club will seek to recoup some of his enormous fee. This is also the summer where I can see Kolarov finally leaving. He’s been a good servant, but we need better in such a crucial position. Similarly, I also believe one of Zabeleta or Sagna could leave, both are the wrong side of thirty, and the former has seemingly declined over the past 18 months.
In terms of midfielders, I think it’s safe to assume Yaya will finally leave the club. He wasn’t the right fit for Pep seven years ago, and with him losing both his power and energy, I think he’ll be moved on fairly quickly. I also think Fernando will be shown the door. He’s far too limited on the ball, and doesn’t possess any standout attributes. Fernandinho will be kept, but it’s vital that the central midfield area is replenished.
In terms of our attacking options, I could see one casualty out of Silva and Navas. It’s painful to say, but both have their limitations, with the former not suited to a pressing system, and the latter not suited to intricate football. I also think Wilfried Bony will be moved on. It’d be harsh, but similarly to Silva, he lacks the mobility to play in a Pep side.
In terms of incomings, I think we’ll be looking at five or six joining the club. Jose Gaya, Aymeric Laporte, Julian Weigl, Paul Pogba and Leroy Sane are the options I believe would be best suited, and they’d all offer vital pace and energy, as well as form a new young spine. Surround this wonderful crop of talent with what we currently have, and there’d be potential for this City side to dominate for years.