Do Pep Guardiola’s puzzling moves make sense?
The last hours of the transfer window are upon us and the world of club football will be watching with bated breath as the next ludicrous news comes in. While the rest of the world grapples with climate change ranging from floods to hurricanes - the effects of climate change as expert environmentalists say - the football market is also starting to feel the effects of such radical meteorological changes it seems.
A recap of the last few weeks is a clear example of how radical and unpredictable the transfer market has become. No doubt, the billions invested in the Premier League have had an effect across all the major leagues in Europe, with a net spend of £3.66 billion being spent on 1482 deals and counting.
And to put it in context, this sum has been spent in only the top 5 leagues across Europe.
Once upon a time, there was the concept of selling clubs and buying clubs, but PSG this summer has blown that theory out of the water by activating a whopping £198 million clause which saw talented Brazilian, Neymar move from Barcelona to PSG. Mind you, Neymar is yet to win the World Cup, although at a club level he has won pretty much everything with Barcelona.
The Spanish club, not to be outdone, have themselves paid a sum of £97 million to Borussia Dortmund for a 20-year-old attacker, Ousmane Dembele.
But putting all that aside, let’s turn our focus exclusively to the Citizens who have shelled out more than £200 million to revamp their squad. And it looks like their spending spree is not yet over.
Histrionics of Guardiola
On Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, depending on which time zone you live, a news broke out that Guardiola is so keen on Alexis Sanchez that Raheem Sterling can now be used as a makeweight in the deal in order to entice the Chilean to the Etihad.
As has been so evidently and rightly pointed out by Paul Wilson of The Guardian, everyone who follows football will be slightly disappointed with the tactics employed by Guardiola. For those who have been following the Spaniard since his Barcelona days, one expected him to continue in the same vein wherever he went. And the spirit of Guardiola was about gelling and developing the younger players with established stars in club football.
Over the years, Guardiola has clearly stated that it is impossible to replicate the Barca/La Masia model at any club. Also, given that Messi is an entire entity altogether the style adopted by Pep was quite different as well.
Nevertheless, this impressive work caught the attention of Bayern Munich and although not as successful as in Barcelona, he still managed to win the league in Germany at a canter. Also, impressive was the number of youth players he brought through.
The Sheikhs of Manchester City were suitably impressed over the years to plan ahead for the arrival of Pep Guardiola, bringing in his former Barca colleagues Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano so that the Spaniard wouldn’t have problems acclimatizing to the system as well as having in place certain players who would be keen to absorb Guardiola’s tactics.
Guardiola & Tactics
While the usage of the word brat may be too harsh, one does feel that the Spaniard is acting like a spoiled kid for sure. Having spent almost close to £220 million on new players, one would have expected Guardiola to concentrate more on his tactics rather than new additions at this stage of the Premier League.
But greed, they say, has no limits and now, Guardiola is insistent on Alexis Sanchez and in order to do that, he was even willing to let go of Raheem Sterling (reportedly!).
The excess of attacking riches in the City ranks also means that one of the established attackers i.e. either Aguero or Sterling will not be a regular starter (depending if Sterling opts out of a move) and one might say that one of these premier players may have to try their fortunes elsewhere.
Ever since his arrival, Guardiola seems to mistrust Aguero or as a whole the established members of the squad who won the Citizens their first Premier League title. One can understand certain cliques that the Spaniard is trying to erase in the dressing room but antagonizing the best players without any reason is also not the best approach.
Aguero has been in the firing line, with reports and comments of unsuitability to Pep’s style being the most spun story since the last season. Maybe the problems don't lie with Aguero but how the Spaniard perceives forwards as a cog in the team. Eto'o and Ibrahimovic, more classical centre-forwards, suffered similar fates while Guardiola was in charge, so it doesn’t come too much as a surprise.
His expectations from a forward may be different but to destabilize the squad and to then regain the trust of his players is easier said than done. The Spaniard surely must have thought this through if he is so insistent on Sanchez but one cannot guarantee success or the fact that how disillusioned the other attackers may feel.
Spending money while the club has enough resources is well and good, but the charm of football sometimes lies in making the best of resources available. Guardiola may say that was what he did last season at the club but with the amounts of money being spent one hopes that Guardiola’s project is a success for the sake of all the parties invested in it.