“I will be at Manchester City for the next three seasons, maybe more, but I am arriving at the end of my coaching career, of this I am sure.”
Whether Pep Guardiola’s post-match revelation was part of a childlike, toys-out-of-the-pram tantrum provoked by the incompetence of referee Lee Mason or an attempt to remind his fiercest of critics just what football will be missing when he goes, who knows? Perhaps it was a genuine remark – Guardiola has, of course, said similar things in the past.
Whatever it was, it doesn’t instill any sort of confidence in the fans, and I’d guess the players won’t be particularly inspired by them either. The timing of Guardiola’s various outbursts, spat towards BBC and Sky Sports journalists following City’s 2-1 win over Burnley on Monday, is what really unsettles the nerves. Questions were fired like missiles at the Catalan following his side’s drab 1-0 defeat to Liverpool on New Year’s Eve when frustrations over the team’s sloppy playing style and continued inability to tussle with the league’s best teams came to a big yellow head. But his team, reduced to 10 men when Fernandinho was sent off for the third time in six games, showed great desire to see off a confident Burnley at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola should have cut a proud rather than a hard-done-by figure after this game.
Instead, he responded to questions regarding the dismissal of Fernandinho like a spoiled brat. “You are the journalist, not me,” he snapped – an answer filled without about as much sense as Emmanuel Adebayor’s 2010 World Cup punditry. Guardiola had every right to be peeved with what was a ghastly refereeing display from Mason, but his decision to send Fernandinho off for a reckless, two-footed challenge was spot on.
There was rage in the eyes of Guardiola as he stood before the cameras; his tone sarcastic and his voice notably more husky than usual. Even the most devoted of Guardiola groupees would have cringed at the way he delivered his hollow one-liners after a win that put City third in the table, two points behind second place Liverpool. 20 games into the season and the 45-year-old appears to be feeling the pressure more than he ever has done in his illustrious managerial career.
At the end of it all we were left feeling disappointed with and a little embarrassed by the man supposed to be steering the ship. Perhaps this was a sign that Guardiola is ready to fight, but to many it looks like Pep is beginning to crack under the pressure.