Indeed it is interesting to contemplate what Guardiola is doing at Manchester City given a) his track record at Bayern and Barcelona and b) Manchester City’s vast amount of money, plus all the facilities that they now have.
And indeed it is interesting to ask “why?” As in why has it not worked out immediately. Because the Great Myth of Football is that Star Man + Money = Success. “Wenger Out” plus “Spend some ****ing money” (**** inserted to meet the editorial criteria of a famous news accumulator service) will thus bring us success.
Except, the Man City experiment seems to show that Star Man + Money, at the moment at least, equals a little bit less than success.
And if the model of Star Man + Money = success turns out not to be true, then the endless calls for Mr Wenger to leave could so easily lead to the appointment of another Star Man who doesn’t deliver.
With Barcelona PG (as we may call him) won the league three times running. He then had a year out and with Bayern Munich he won the league three times running. But we must remember that both leagues have a very limited number of clubs who could possibly challenge for the title, and Bayern’s dominance is so overwhelming in Germany that quite often it makes the league title challenge even more boring than in Spain.
- And now it seems that it is getting a little unlikely that he will repeat his trick of always winning the league. Of course he might need more time – anyone can realise that – but this is football and time is never on the agenda. PG is the God of Football. Gods don’t need time.
- Plus at Man City there seems to be even less willingness to give time than at Arsenal. One only had to look at the way the fans treated Manuel Pellegrini when he bade farewell after the last game to know that this is not a club that does culture or style.
So what has gone wrong. Why are Man City not utterly dominating the league as they should if Money + Star Manager must mean success (as the aaa always suggest).
Of course you could argue nothing has gone wrong. It’s just first season hiccups. You don’t get them in Spain because it is a two team league, nor in Germany because it is in the nation’s constitution that Bayern always win.
Even so the Joe Hart affair seemed a bit like a person out of his depth stamping his foot and saying this is what I want. The media have talked about the failure to sort out the back four, and the fact that youngsters have not been introduced into the team and that does seem a trifle odd.
At 28 years 1 month the average ago of the first team squad is not the oldest in the league, but only Stoke and WBA have older average ages – and both those only by a fraction. Caballero is 35, Toure, Bravo and Sagna are all 33, Zabaleta 32, Da Silva, Navas, Nolito, Clichy and Fernandinho are all 31. Maybe PG heard the phrase “Chelsea Pensioners” and thought it was the English Way.
What’s more while people do talk about Arsenal needing a new left back, with Man City they speak of a left-back, a right-back, and a central defender. And a goalkeeper to replace Bravo.
Also it is interesting that Manuel Pellegrini was criticised by the “jump on the bandwagon” media for being inflexible tactically, exactly as Mr Wenger and exactly now as Guardiola. Might it be that an approach that worked in the two team league of Spain and one team league of Germany doesn’t work too well where you have a top six? That you simply can’t take success with you from those leagues and expect it to happen in England.
Of course when the media turn, they do so on trivia. Speaking of the failure to convert chances PG apparently said “I would like to know why it keeps happening.” That is now thrown back at him. The man is a failure because he doesn’t know why his players don’t score, is the current media line.
But such bloggetta trivia, copied from the mass media, doesn’t help us understand what is going on, although the Guardian will have noted that only one Man City player is in double figures when it comes to scoring (the current ranking being Agüero 18, Iheanacho, Sterling and Nolito six each). That is indeed dangerous.
Of course it is not surprising that the media is starting to turn en masse – they will always hunt in packs. PG’s rather droll response to questions about whether Fernandinho should have been sent off (“You are the journalist, not me,”) was bound to turn the media against him, because they are never going to admit that they make up reality; that they define what is and what is not true. Their simplistic vision is that the TV channel never lies. As we’ve seen, it does all the time.
The simple fact is that two teams in Spain and one team in Germany have been playing and succeeding with the same model for years – a top manager and an endless supply of money to buy the best players in the world. But they do not have the competition both in terms of buying in players and in terms of having to play competitive matches each week. If Bayern, Real Mad or Barcelona want a player then, apart from the transfer windows when the latter two are banned for child trafficking offences, they buy him. In Barcelona’s case, if necessary with a bit of tax fiddling on the side.
Man City can’t do this. Yes they have the money, of course, but there are two factors working against them. First they don’t have the heritage that Real Mad, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have. Their recent finishing positions: 4th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 4th, is very good by Premier League standards but not as good as Barcelona (1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st), not as good as Bayern (3rd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st).
The fact is that a good manager handling Barcelona or Bayern Munich can get the results because of their dominance and their money. It isn’t like that in the Premier League – there is more competition. And that is before we even start to consider the influence of the PGMO.
The point is that no manager – even with vast amounts of money and talent at his disposal, can be sure of winning the league in England. Which is why the calls for change the Arsenal manager are so silly. Yes, Mr Wenger could have been forced out, but then what? We could have had Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola. Just changing managers and bringing in a famous name who has won a lot in Spain or Germany, or come to that Italy, is absolutely no guarantee that things will get better.
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