Guardiola Delivered Title Glory His Way and It Was a Joy to Watch
Pep Guardiola 1, the critics who said he could not do it his way in the Premier League, 0.
The Spaniard has delivered the Premier League title with five games remaining, and there is a good chance his side could top the 100-point mark. It’s not so much a victory, more an annihilation, as Manchester City has proved a class above the rest of the league.
Yes, Guardiola has spent an awful lot of money assembling his all-star cast, but others have also spent big. The difference is, the Spaniard assessed what was needed in his first year in England and strengthened his squad accordingly.
He knew his full-backs were not up to scratch, so went out and signed Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo – the latter arguably the best reserve full-back in the game until Mendy was struck down by injury. The threat City now carry on the flanks, with the full-backs supporting Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, means they have varied attacking options all over the park.
Guardiola admitted he got it wrong with the signing of Claudio Bravo by moving for Ederson in the summer. Bravo’s profile of a ball-playing goalkeeper was what he wanted; the problem was the Chilean failed to deliver. Ederson has, and City has been the better for it.
The net result has been a side who have won 28 of their 33 games to date and currently hold a 16-point lead at the top of the table. Not bad for a man who some suggested could not cut it in England; that his style of football would not deliver glory in the Premier League.
Well, Guardiola did, and he did it his way. He stuck to his beliefs of possession-based football, where every player contributes, where they defend with a high line and relentlessly go in search of goalscoring opportunities. It’s 93 and counting in the goals scored column, 17 better than any other team in the Premier League.
There were plenty of critics who suggested Pep’s desire to adopt a high line of defence and play out from the back would see them come unstuck. Well, 25 goals conceded – the fewest in the division – suggests Guardiola got it right.
City has not been infallible. Liverpool rolled them over in the Champions League and a Paul Pogba-inspired Manchester United comeback confirmed they are beatable, but a blip here and there (admittedly in the same week-long period) over the course of a season is acceptable if the overall results are so good.
City has devoured the little fish in the Premier League, much as they did in the previous campaign, but this time round they have also won most of the big duels. Wins over Chelsea, home and away, a mauling of Liverpool at home, and victories at Manchester United and Tottenham confirmed City’s status as the cream of the crop – and it was achieved without Pep shifting his philosophy.
Clinching the Premier League is only the beginning, and Pep and his City team should be celebrated for it as the Spaniard delivered on his promise, and, in such a brilliant way.
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