On September 27th, 2020, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City fell to an unexpected 5-2 defeat to Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Following their 18-point deficit to Liverpool at the top of the Premier League last season, the Citizens came into the new campaign with a renewed sense of hope. However, just two games into the 2020-21 season, the same glaring deficiencies remain in the Spaniard’s record-breaking side. So, let’s take a look at whether City’s frailties are an easy fix for the world-renowned manager.
Should Pep Accept Sole Responsibility?
Because of his stature in the sport, Guardiola will always come under fire should his side fail to reach the lofty standards that have become a staple of the Spaniard’s style of play. In terms of blame, the 49-year-old isn’t solely responsible for the Citizen’s defensive frailties. That said, some of his tactical decisions haven’t helped the Sky Blues. For example, in last season’s Champions League defeat to Lyon, the former Barcelona manager altered his system in moving to a three-back shape with wing-backs. Crucially, the 3-1 loss showed that the alteration hindered the 2018-19 Premier League champions.
On reflection, the quarter-final loss will hurt Guardiola, who is still longing to achieve European success with City. In club football, few competitions are held in as high regard as the Champions League, and that’s evident from its pop-culture status. Along with being in video game franchises, like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, the tournament’s knockout format has been the inspiration behind the five-reel slot, Football: Champions Cup, which is available at many of the popular bonus-offering operators listed at Casino Horse. At Casumo Casino, for example, prospective players can use their various sign-up promotions, including free spins, on the NetEnt football-themed development.
An Issue That Money has Yet to Resolve
At the time of writing, City have yet to announce the highly-anticipated signing of Ruben Dias, although it has been confirmed by the club he is departing, Benfica. However, before the Portuguese defender’s arrival in Manchester, the club’s 49-year-old manager has already spent around £345 on defensive reinforcements, according to GiveMeSport. Since 2016, the likes of Benjamin Mendy, Joao Cancelo, John Stones and Nathan Ake to name a few have all moved to the Etihad Stadium.
Fundamentally, of course, the Citizen’s trophy-winning record in recent years speaks for itself, with the club being the most successful English club between 2010 and 2019, as per City’s official website. However, since the departure of Vincent Kompany in 2019, Guardiola’s defensive woes have been put under the spotlight. In the Belgian’s final season in Manchester, City won the league title by one point from Liverpool, losing only four games and conceding just 23 goals on the route to a successful domestic campaign.
By comparison, Guardiola’s team fell to nine defeats last season, letting in 35 goals. While, of course, it’s impossible to quantify how much of a loss Kompany has been, the statistics speak for themselves. From this, however, it’s possible to infer that City has struggled to replace their captain. In turn, this has affected their defensive structure and organisation.
A Decisive Season Awaits
In 2019-20, the Citizens lost early ground to the eventual title winners, Liverpool. Although their defeat to Leicester doesn’t indicate that a below-par campaign is in store, Guardiola will be keen to ensure that his team stays in touching distance of top spot. For the expensively-assembled side, such a task should be achievable, but it’s not a guarantee.