On a night where the result wasn’t ever going to matter a great deal, City’s makeshift side of youth and fringe players were beaten 1-0 by a strong Bayern Munich team. Despite the scoreline, there were some obvious positives to take from the game. Let’s take a look at exactly what we learned from Pep’s first game as City manager.
We may not need a new goalkeeper
With the transfer merry-go-round in full swing, it seems as if City have been linked with almost every goalkeeper under the sun. Gerónimo Rulli’s signing seems only to be missing a formal announcement, whilst the Spanish press are adamant that Claudio Bravo could be on his way to Manchester. Well, one man who we may be forgetting for the position is Willy Caballero. The Argentine veteran made three fantastic saves in the first half to keep the scores level, and showed distributary skills which his rival, Joe Hart, could only dream of. It may be far-fetched to expect him to be City’s number one next season, or even at the club at all, but he certainly did his chances no harm with a fine performance in this game.
There is a reason why we don’t appear to be actively trying to sign new full-backs
And that reason is, we already have two very good, young full-backs at the club.
Jose ‘Angeliño’ Tasende, the 19-year-old who spent a part of last season on loan in New York, turned in a performance of the highest quality. During the first half, Angelino, operating at left-back, performed his defensive duties admirably and was a constant option on the left wing whenever City had the chance to attack. Guardiola pushed the Spaniard further forward in the second half and he looked completely at home amongst City’s senior players. There is a very good chance that the youngster will feature in Pep Guardiola’s first team squad throughout the coming season, especially with Aleks Kolarov expected to depart the club.
Pablo Maffeo was just as impressive on the other flank. Maffeo was given a baptism of fire under Guardiola, coming up against the fantastic Franck Ribery. The young Spaniard spent last season on loan at Girona in the Spanish second tier, and so can be forgiven for looking like he was slightly in awe of Ribery at times. Despite being skinned a few times by the Frenchman, Maffeo came up with some crucial interceptions and tackles during his first full 90 minutes for City. It will be interesting to see whether Pep has a place for him in his squad this season, with a loan move being rumoured in the press.
We are still very much a work in progress
This really should go without saying, but unfortunately there are some fans who expect Guardiola to turn City into Champions League winners overnight. This was not a vintage City performance, nor was it one which Pep Guardiola would be happy with in a competitive game. It will take time for Pep to stamp his mark on the club and the way that the team plays. To expect even a 1-0 win in this game would have been overly optimistic. The match showed that many of City’s flaws from last season still remain and Pep will have to work hard to iron these out before the new season starts.
BUT, the performance offers a good starting point for Guardiola to work with
The very purpose of pre-season is to allow managers to learn more about their squad and identify any flaws within it. Given that this was the first game of pre-season, against one of the best sides in the world, the performance was a very good starting point to build upon. The Blues, lacking most of their first choice players, turned in a resilient display and can consider themselves hard done by, after losing to one of the luckiest goals you’ll see this season. There were clear improvements on display, with the team already showing more passion than they did in most games under Manuel Pellegrini. Seeing the team actually press the ball in an organised manner is a joy to behold, and is a very refreshing change from the lethargic tactics of Manuel Pellegrini. The fact that Pep decided to give youth a chance should also be praised, after predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, managed to forget / ignore the fact that we have one of the most exciting academies in world football.
On reflection, it would be very easy to be frustrated and disappointed with tonight’s performance, but we must not react on instinct, and instead use some common sense. The only sensical thing to emerge from Danny Mills’ mouth tonight was that this match, despite not being particularly interesting for us fans, will have taught Pep Guardiola endless amounts about his new squad. This was Pep’s first chance to see the players in action against another club, and will have given him a much better idea of where the squad is up to, more so than any training session would have. We must keep in mind that tonight was not about the result, it was merely a chance for Pep to learn.