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Pep and his balls
As soon as the news was announced that Pep Guardiola would be the next manager of Manchester City there was a soul-sapping inevitability about the response of a minority of fans, and this morning’s mailbox did not disappoint. As soon as I opened the *yawn* email from Greg Benham, I’d have put my mortgage, if I had one, on the letter being from an Arsenal fan, disdain and moral superiority seeping from every word. My only surprise is he didn’t mention net spends or organic growth. File with the “is Pep all that?” comments. Pep will no doubt be devastated that a few fans of rival clubs are disappointed in him.
To put the response to Guardiola’s move to City into some sort of perspective. Have you ever – EVER – previously heard a fan bemoaning a top manager for not taking the best job available to him? When Mourinho was last available, did you hear a swathe of United and Arsenal fans (it’s always them) suggest that he would be perceived as a coward if he didn’t go for the Aston Villa or Stoke job, which would be a proper challenge? No, of course you didn’t, as that would be ridiculous. Except of course when City are involved, which allows perspective to be skewed somewhat and allows desperate fans running out of things to criticise the club for counting empty seats at the club with the 3rd highest attendances in England. After all, if you were one of the UK’s top company directors, you wouldn’t take a pay cut to manage a struggling village store “for the challenge”. Get real – the best managers will naturally want the best jobs.
And just because you read somewhere that Guardiola wanted a club with history (City were formed in 1894 under their current name – even MK Dons have a history. The words you are looking for are “success in the 1990s and 2000s”) does not make it a fact or demean his decision. Surely making history is more important than looking back at it anyway? What’s more, to suggest that taking over a team that haven’t yet reached the Quarter Final stage of the Champions League is not a challenge is palpably rubbish.
But anyway, some have missed the point of why Guardiola has moved to City. It is not just because of squad strength and wealth (and let’s not keep up the charade that City have more money than everyone else – United have, City are running at a profit now and will spend what their revenue allows, as they will not fail FFP again, which very much still exists. Our owners could leave tomorrow, it wouldn’t change much). No, he came here because it has been planned by City’s owners and Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano for years and years.
So let’s spell out why he came to rainy, grey Manchester. He gets to work with trusted friends, confidantes. He oversees one of the best academies in world football, where all age groups play the same brand of football. The club structure is professional, and he will get levels of support he wouldn’t get elsewhere. And winning in Europe clearly presents a new challenge, in a new domestic league too. Basically, he has the perfect working conditions to succeed in, the ground work has been put in to capture him for at least 4 years and the academy has been shaped to lead up to this point in time. Why would he go anywhere else? Pep’s appointment is the result of proper planning, management and club development – and boy did City need some of that for a change. It’s easier with money of course, but that shouldn’t detract from the job that has been done – just look down the road.
This is not a guarantee of success of course – no one can guarantee success. The players may struggle with his intensity of play, the league may surprise him with its competitiveness. But it’s as close a guarantee of success that City could have hoped for, so it was a no-brainer, and Pellegrini, who has acted with dignity and class, knew this day was coming from the day he arrived at the club. With Klopp at Liverpool, Mourinho possibly at United and the wealth of the upcoming TV deal meaning Stoke can spend £18m on a player (as it should be), it could be a fascinating 2016/17 season. Try and enjoy it rather than letting your bitterness take over yet again.
There seems to be a lot of bitterness in the mailbox regarding Pep’s decision to go to City. It’s the easy option they say. Winning with the best teams doesn’t prove your managerial clout. If only he took over United, then he could prove his worth.
But why is this only a consideration for managers?
If we were to follow this line of thinking, then surely Ronaldo would have to drop down a few divisions and join Accrington Stanley to prove that he is, you know, a good player. Messi would have to consider Stoke, not as a one off but as a regular wet Tuesday evening home game. All of which is ridiculous. Messi & Ronaldo are obviously great players who wish to demonstrate their world class talents at the very top level. Pep is the same from a managerial point of view.
And United supporters are fooling nobody with their bitterness.
I have to disagree with the “Pep is a coward” brigade.
First of all, there are horses for courses. Every manager has his niche. Look at Tony Pulis, Roy Hodgson, David Moyes. Even Steve Bruce, who is once again showing that he’s a very good manager at Championship level. Managers like Mourinho and Guardiola work best at the top.
Second, there’s the expectations game. Mark Hughes only needs to keep Stoke City in the top half. But if you come to a moneyed club, you have to win. There’s very little margin for error. At minimum, Pep at City will have to win a couple of titles and get to the Champions League final. That’s real pressure.
Third, this will be no cakewalk. City have lots of cash, but so do Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. In addition, the league as a whole may be becoming more competitive. City are a team in transition age-wise, and he’ll have to bring in several new players and integrate them with the current side. And he’ll have to do it in a new language.
All in all, I think he’s taken on a considerable challenge. And don’t forget he’ll have to deal with Alan Pardew as well. I wish him the best of luck.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
I really hope Pep Guardiola didn’t read this morning’s Mailbox because he must be absolutely kicking himself about deciding to join City after some lads on the internet called him a coward.
What I really don’t understand about all this is how City can simultaneously be both an inferior club to United, Arsenal, Liverpool et al but also the easy option for Pep?
Oh yeah, money, that’ll be it. Nobody else but City spends money on players, of course. and if Pep really wanted to prove himself to the Football Managers he’d be better off going to Bolton Wanderers.
I mean, the absolute nerve of the man for wanting to join an extremely well run football club with vast resources and incredible facilities where two of his close friends (who helped him build one of the best teams the world’s ever seen) also happen to work. He should definitely have gone to United. They’re the “biggest club in the world” you know? They’ve won 20 titles. They’ve got history!
There’s a slim possibility your wildest dreams will come true and Pep’s tenure at City will be a disaster but I think we all know, deep down, that he’s an amazing coach who is almost guaranteed to be a success everywhere he goes.
If I didn’t know better, I’d honestly think some of you were a bit jealous of little old Citeh.
Dan, MCFC OK
Other Pep talk
We are halfway through the 2015/16 season and Pep Guardiola is announced as Pellegrini’s successor. Que the rampant pandering over him and the non-stop darn right ejaculations from fans and the media alike. Now I am by no means saying that this isn’t big news, because it is, however, I can’t help but think that most of the fan fare about Pep has been firstly because of his reputation (at Barca I feel) and secondly down to the fact that this has been the most boring and uneventful January transfer window in recent memory. The biggest player transfer news I picked up was from Stoke City! Stoke bloody City!
I can agree with people such as Guv (Roland Duchatelet OUT) CAFC when he says that the Barca team weren’t in such great shape when Pep took over, their Champions League winning team of 2006 just wasn’t the same, therefore, I can commend Pep on turning that around & deciding to rebuild the team around Messi when previously it was built around Ronaldinho. However, letting go of those big names was more in an attempt to usher in a new breed of players, players that were obedient and would not kick up a fuss when benched in favour of a younger player, like Zlatan did when he was benched for Messi. Players like Deco, ‘Dinho, Zlatan, Eto’o and Toure have big personalities and can’t be policed as easily as a Xavi or a Busquets. All that being said, though, Pep was a huge success at Barca, even though I do believe that Johann Cruyff, LVG and Rijkaard would take offence at Guv saying that Pep implemented Barca’s style of play.
It is his time at Bayern that got me wondering whether or not he really is all that great, and subsequently it is this point that leads me to argue that Jupp Heynckes’ team was better than the current Bayern. Heynckes’ team was full proof! It had goals from all over the field and there was a real German efficiency and cutthroatness (I know that’s not a word) to it. They were dominant in the air with the centre backs, Gomez & Muller, they had pace with ‘Robbery’ and Toni Kroos showed then why Real Madrid bought him a few years on. Bayern under Guardiola are still a good team but they have lost their identity, they are much more erratic than Heynckes’ team and they seem to have a soft centre which was exposed in that demolition by Real Madrid the season before last. Bayern under Heyckes beat Dortmund (in the treble year) when Dortmund were still at their best as they reached the Champions League final that same season. The current Bayern side have no competition in Germany, unlike Heyckes’ Bayern at the time.
So, to me atleast, Peps real achievements lie at Barca, but what has ensued since then has been rather mediocre considering the quality of the players he has at Bayern, the competition in the Bundesliga and the expectation of what he should have achieved in the Champions League. Factor in the above and the fact that the Premier League is more competitive and I would advise that we all chill on our predictions of a future Manchester City dominance under Guardiola.
Buchule Fulanisi (Oliver Dziggel has the best name ever! It sounds like the name of a hip new dance move. Do the Dziggel!) East London, RSA
is Pep really that good? Why do people always say he is easily the best in the world?, he isn’t. When Barca got him, there were some problems in the team, but note that there weren’t post-Fergie ManUtd type of problems. He just needed to let SOME players(ronaldinho, deco, zambrotta and dos santos) go. That same summer, he got Dani Alves, Pique, Keita, Caceres and Hleb with the help of a man(his classmate in school) who is now sporting director at City and would probably do the same (Sell the old, buy younger and fresher legs). There’s already Pogba for Yaya. There wasn’t much head-scratching to do, was there?
and on the issue of youth development: was it he that introduced Xavi and Iniesta to the first team? No, it was LVG. At Bayern, was it he that introduced Muller,Robben, Ribery and Neuer to the first team? Even Coman who had played in the previous campaign under Conte at Juve? No, it was not. Lets not forget that they had just won the TREBLE!!! with a Bayern team that was worse (yes,worse) than what they currently have. Can you compare Douglas Costa, Alonso, Lewan, Vidal ,Gotze et al to what they had then.
As Yaya’s agent said, even my grandpa could do what he has done at Barca and Bayern. This is a man who was privileged to work with the best player that ever lived. To even show you how not-difficult it is to do it at Barca, Enrique has won the treble and might well do it again(does it make him the best in the world?). Pep’s naivety has even been exposed at the top level against Madrid where BBC ripped him and Enrique’s Barca when he tried to play 3 defenders against MSN (really?) en route to the final. On the issue of Dortmund, how were they meant to compete when their best players kept on getting plucked away to Bavaria? Huh?
To be considered the best you need to turn trash to jewels. Look at Klopp at Dortmund, Jose at Porto, Simeone at Athletico to name a few. So please look beyond the trophy haul and see an average overhyped manager who always take the easy option. Until you do better than Pellegrini has done at City (4 years, 4 titles), there’s no way you are the best. Years from now when the boy becomes a world beater, lets not forget that he did not ‘discover’ Iheanacho.
Benhur(i bet Don Carlo would do a treble at Bayern), The Other Side.
I’m getting pretty miffed at everyone announcing that City will dominate English football now that Pep’s in charge. Now, I am not saying that Guardiola is a poor manager – in fact, I believe he’s a rather good manager, but is he really the miracle worker that everyone makes out he is?
Did he really inherit unsuccessful teams and turn them into world forces?
Barcelona (4 seasons)
3 La Liga titles, 2 Copa Del Rey cups, 2 Champions League
Bayern Munich (2 seasons)
2 Bundesliga titles, 1 Champions League, 1 German Cup
Consider that Bayern did the treblejust before Pep joined, and won the Bundesliga 7 times and the German cup 6 times between 2000 and 2013. And Barcelona have won the La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey once, and the Champions League once in 3 seasons since Pep left – which is not far from Pep’s record whilst in charge.
Is he really world-class? Or did he just inherit 2 very good sides – which in itself attracts bigger and better players?
Gutted at losing out? Really?
I am a Man Utd fan, let’s get that out of the way straight away but I’m not upset one least bit about ‘losing out’ on Pep.
Yes, he is undoubtedly a good manager, somewhere between “brilliant, look at what he’s won” and “he can only do it with an already top team and endless supplies of cash” depending on who you talk to but I am not about to debate that too much. See 100 other mails to make your call. Personally, I am somewhere in the middle on that debate as not all managers can take a top 4 team and spend pots of cash and turn them into a great side (see LVG for example of that). My only real criticism of Pep is his strong likelihood (like Jose) to only be around for a short time.
The point I want to make however is this, I do not care so much about what another club is doing. I care what my club is (or isn’t) doing. Overly obsessing on what a competitor is doing in sport or business is a sure way of failing (see countless examples of clubs who celebrate derby wins like they’ve actually won a trophy). Man utd have missed out on hundreds of players and dozens of managers over the years but it’s those they do get that matter. Anyone who has followed the premier league for a few years or more knows the quality of squad required to have a shot at the league title and that is the benchmark that I look for at utd,and not at what someone else has got. And in terms of that benchmark, we are short of it but not as short as the league table shows – in that regard the squad is under achieving which has to be down to the manager.
No player, players or manager offers guaranteed success but the more quality you have in all areas, obviously the more chance you have of success.
Jon, Jo’burg (Just got tickets to Wanderers game on the 12th Feb, come on England!)
More on England’s lion
I really don’t understand all the criticism that John Terry gets. It’s almost as if people think he’s revealed the lack of contract offer so early in order to get a friendly media campaign going for him. Which is ridiculous, obviously.
John Terry is an absolute legend. Everything you want a captain and centre back to be. Unless you want him to be a morally acceptable role model. But why would you?
He’s certainly an outstanding centre back. As long as you don’t try and play a high line.
If you play a fairly deep back 4, then he’s one of the best centre backs of his generation. As long as you have a quickish centre back playing along side him.
If you play fairly deep, and pair him with a quick partner, the he’s one of the greatest defenders to ever grace hallowed turf of Stamford Bridge. As long as there’s at least a couple of defensive midfielders in front of him, snuffing out a good 50% of attacks before they get near him.
If you play fairly deep, with a quick CB next to him, and a couple of defensive midfielders in front of him then he’s one of the finest defenders ever to wear the three lions. As long as he’s next to a full back who is very defensively minded, and doesn’t bomb on too much leaving space behind.
If you play fairly deep, with a quick CB next to him, a couple of defensive midfielders in front of him and a full back who doesn’t push forward, then he’s the greatest defender in the history of the sport.
I for one will mourn the loss of this giant of the game. An English giant, no less. A man who was proud to pull on a shirt with the three lions, as long as the FA hadn’t told him off. In fact, they should add a 4th lion to the England shirt, to mark his retirement/move to a country with poor human rights but massive wages.
Farewell John Terry, my heart if filled with love and admiration for you, and all you have stood for.
Robin (CPFC) has missed the point on why there is so much hate directed at John Terry, suggesting that it is because he plays for Chelsea. It isn’t entirely that, it’s because every time he is done something that people consider morally wrong, such as infidelity or using racist words, Chelsea fans have come out in droves to defend him. It’s not a specifically Chelsea thing (something, something, Liverpool, something, something, t-shirts), it just happens to be one of the strongest embodiments of the worst aspects of tribalism in recent memory. There is also the fact that he was described by said fans (and those in the media) as being brave for “fronting up” to all criticism.
He is also one of the players believed to be most influential in getting Andre Villas-Boas sacked, for undermining his manager in the media following the heinous crime of telling Terry he would have to prove himself worthy of a place in the team. Then, once AVB had been shown the door, and a players’ patsy had been installed, there was the shinpads incident. Having got himself sent off for violent conduct, thus harming his team’s chances, his presence in the celebrations served only to cheapen them.
John Terry is not, as Robin suggests, a “pantomime villain”. He is a thoroughly unpleasant man who happens to have been an excellent football player. Alternatively, he is an excellent football player who happens to be a thoroughly unpleasant man. It is possible to consider one without the other, but he will always be both at the same time. His ability to defend does not excuse all his wrongdoing, just as his wrongdoing does not make him less of a player.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Begrudging Arsenal respect for Spurs
To observations from an Arsenal fan:
First off, I just have to raise something that’s been nagging at me for a season or two now: Rob Davies THFC (Spurs> Arsenal? Shush) references the North London tension. I’m one of at least twenty or so Arsenal fans I know personally who are genuinely happy for Spurs- a really good club, properly run/managed, good young players, great football and with a silent majority of good fans and some fantastic players.
Yes, this is going to sound patronising, but I don’t mean it to: Spurs is the best traditional non-Champs League clubs and could, if things go well over the next 5 years, make themselves a CL fixture. And, in a world of Chelsea, Man City, PSG etc., you’d be a prick to begrudge any club that given how they’re achieving it.
Secondly (and linked) I agree to some extent with the dismay that Pep’s decided not to test himself by taking Sunderland/ Aston Villa to glory- but let’s not forget that Mourinho has never slummed it either (unless you’re counting the Portugese League which, in that sense, it a sunnier Scotland. Pochettino (and a fair few others in the rapidly-improving Premier League now) is building a reputation without Brodge-esque hype and juvenile agression- but based on playing style, young-exciting-players, net spend/ £-per-point as well as league points.
I hope we beat them always. But I know when they beat us, they deserve to. I also know they will beat us fairly often. In the grand scheme of things, it’s better than being beaten by Chelsea.
M- Chiswick (Arsenal)
Keeping the Peace
I read with interest your references to the situation regarding Saido Berahino in this morning’s Winners and Losers section. I think the issue is relatively simple with regard to Jeremy Peace’s stand on not selling the player. With the cost of not staying up so high this season selling off our top goalscorer, particularly to a relegation rival like Newcastle, would be madness. Admittedly Berahino’s value will be lower come this summer. That value is a tiny fraction, however, of the money that would be lost should we get relegated. Its simply not worth the risk. We wouldn’t be able to buy a decent replacement in without getting absolutely fleeced. Apart from Berahino we only really have one other striker in Rondon. Anichebe’s injury record is terrible and Rickie Lambert seems to have regressed back to looking like a non league striker.
Hopefully Berahino can get back into form and a proper level of physical fitness (he’s put on a fair bit of weight recently) and start performing over the next three months to a level where he gets the move he wants in the summer and Albion move on an unhappy player.
Harsh on Liverpool
Last night I was thinking that Liverpool had a decent window. While I am not totally surprised to see the reds in Storey’s loser’s column this morning, I think they are a bit unlucky to be there.
If you look at Liverpool’s squad they really don’t need much. What they do need would have been almost impossible to get in January without throwing Citeh like money around. Most of the reconstructive surgery is summer business.
What the January window did for Liverpool was show the strength of the club in it’s current form with the “Klopp-effect” taking center stage. Liverpool snapped up a real talent in Grujic. He has all the tools to become a real player in the premier league. The Caulker deal also seems to be very smart business. I’ve always been a big fan of Caulker and would love to see him stay past the 6 month loan if he can continue to prove himself.
Liverpool didn’t sign a game changer, but links with players like Gotze, Teixiera, and Matip were met with optimism rather than delusion. One gets the sense that players who were once out of reach are now viable options.
So while Daniel Storey’s rationale to put the reds in the losers column is valid, I think Liverpool had a better window that most of the top sides.
Brian (I love the fact that Pep is coming to the premier league, and not with United) LFC
“The club/Klopp were right not to break the club transfer record for a player who’s never been capped & plays in a pretty rubbish league.”
“I can’t believe the club didn’t break the bank to bring in a player who’s scored so many goals when we’re sorely lacking them.”
Just to be clear, these aren’t mutually exclusive points of view. I hold both of these views simultaneously. It is possible. I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on Teixeira but a lad who’s scored that many goals is always worth a punt. However, we were held to ransom by Shakhtar’s CEO (not the 1st time a Ukranian executive has scuppered our January business) I legitimately believe that if we’d have offered what they were asking they would have just shifted the goalposts again.
More goals would have been lovely (and necessary) but if we win a cup (or 2, how nice would that be?) with this squad & we go into summer with Klopp being backed then I would be super OK with that.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
Mixed feelings over Poch to United
Dan Walker has made a very interesting statement on twitter – https://twitter.com/mrdanwalker/status/694482390786428929 – saying that in the past 72 hours, 3 knowledgeable sources have suggested Pochettino could move to Manchester United in the Summer.
I’m a Manchester United fan, and I have to say I have mixed feelings about this.
The Man U fan in me is seriously excited at the propsect that it might be true – he’s shown himself to be a very good Premier League manager, plays good football and seems to make it a personal mission to develop young players. I’m having visions of Will Keane becoming our Harry Kane and scoring thir.. Okay I’ll stop there. But you get the idea.
But the fan of football in general in me is slightly disappointed. Even as a fan of one of the ‘big’ clubs, I have to say that this season has been made all the more exciting by the fact that Man Utd and Chelsea have been so bad whilst Leicester, Tottenham and others have been far better than expected. It makes the Premier League more enjoyable. And Pochettino has played his part in that, making Tottenham a great team to watch and embarking on what seems to be a long-term project. If I’m honest, I’d be really sorry to see him leave Spurs, even for my own team.
I know it’s just speculation and it’s probably not true, but I found myself surprised at how torn I am. Can we just clone him?
Alex (Still kinda want to see LvG succeed in his Bayern/Ajax-esque way), Leeds
A word on Villa
Omnishambles: A situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.
Definition of omnishambles in English:
noun; Aston Villa.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach
Justice for Big Tony
‘To pinch a line from the excellent Bugle podcast, Woodward is the Premier League reverse Midas. Everything he touches tuns to s**t.’
Don’t think the excellent Bugle podcast can take credit for that line, as fine as it is. Tony Soprano says is to his psychiatrist in…The Sopranos.