Manchester City have proved Guardiola’s undoing. In the first year, Guardiola came out third in the Battle of the Bosses, failing to beat Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Spurs’ Mauricio Pochettino. Nonetheless, finishing slightly higher than Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp will have pleased the spaniard, but none moreso than thrashing club and personal rival, Jose Mourinho.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
First Team: Ederson; Mendy, Otamendi, Stones, Walker; Fernandinho, Toure; Sterling, De Bruyne, Silva; Aguero
Manchester City have addressed the areas of need in an already strong squad. Gone are the aging full backs, replaced with Kyle Walker and Monaco’s exciting young Mendy. Gone is the wonderfully experimental Claudio Bravo, replaced with Ederson. Add those to a front line that can threaten the best in the world, and there is very little better.
Principle. Pep Guardiola loves his “beautiful” game, which somehow involves passing teams to death. While it worked to great aplomb in the much less competitive La Liga (and the not-even-competitive-coronation-of-Bayern-Munich known as the Bundesliga), Guardiola found the Premier League a much more challenging task. Without a Plan B (begging your pardon, Mr Klopp), expect teams to work out how to undo them quickly.
The title. That is the only thing Pep should be focused on this year. While Manchester City made inroads in the Champions League last year, they cut qualification close, finishing only three points ahead of Arsenal, who missed out. City need to focus on consistently picking up points against teams outside the top seven, and they could end up on top of the pile.
Humiliation in Europe. Finishing third leaves City facing yet another “Group of Death” in the Champions League. While they should qualify for the knockout rounds regardless, it might take a toll on their relatively thin squad, which they can scarcely afford – especially if it affects their performance in the League.
Manchester City have a great first team, and a decent squad to back them up. Barring any moments of Pep madness (which is not a foregone conclusion), expect them to challenge for the title this year (better than last) and pick up a trophy or two. Just don’t pray for the Champions League. We just can’t see it.
That said, let’s have a look at one of City’s best moments in the Champions League last year – their 3-1 win over Monaco!
Want more Premier League previews? Check out Liverpool’s performance in the off season.