Paul Merson’s Daily Star column was the typical mix of salient points and utter nonsense.
After explaining why he can’t see how Leeds will survive in the Premier League, he went on to explain why Pep Guardiola is lucky to still be in a job at Manchester City.
He wrote: ‘Pep Guardiola is lucky to still have a job because if he was anybody else Manchester City would have sacked him by now.
‘This season has been an absolute disaster for them – and Guardiola is the only manager in football who would keep his job after failing so badly.’
We get the point, but the phrase ‘if he was anyone else’ is always a weird one. He’s not anyone else, he’s a manager who’s won a sh*tload of trophies playing some of the best football the world has ever seen.
Merson continues: ‘City finished almost 20 points behind Liverpool. They lost in the Champions League to the team who finished SEVENTH in France. They lost an FA Cup semi final to Arsenal – against his old assistant.’
All factual, and fair enough, it was a bad year for Guardiola and City. But adding ‘his old assistant’ like it’s a negative is odd – would Mikel Arteta have won that if he hadn’t worked as Pep’s understudy? Surely that could just as easily be seen as a positive.
He added: ‘I just think he tries to be too clever all the time. When he tinkers and it comes off everyone says he’s a genius.
‘But how many times has he tinkered now in the Champions League and lost? He’s there to make City the best team in Europe. He hasn’t even got them into the final!
Good points, no arguments. But hang on…
‘Why did he play Kevin De Bruyne further up the pitch against Lyon?’
‘Who’s going to get him the ball, Ilkay Gundogan? I don’t think so.’
Why don’t you think so? That is literally what Gundogan does.
‘Yes, his teams can play great football. But he has great players. Of course they can. How wouldn’t you play great football with the players they’ve got? Great managers are managers who turn OK players into great players, like Jurgen Klopp has done.
‘Look at Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. They were good players. Now they are world class. No-one saw that coming. Pep Guardiola BUYS great players. He doesn’t MAKE them.’
Well, there is very clearly one…
‘Raheem Sterling has got better under Pep.’
Oh fine, you got it.
‘But when he missed that sitter the other night you weren’t shocked, were you?’
Not this Sterling finishing nonsense again. He missed from about a yard – it was incredibly shocking.
‘His team broke every record going not so long ago. But let’s not forget, when he first came here he didn’t win a trophy.’
OK, we won’t forget that. There must be some more insight coming off the back of that point, why do we need to remember that?