Guardiola - hit or miss?

Published: Monday, 16 December 2019

‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’. Brilliant. And the answer from John Cleese as he sat round with his fellow rebels from The People’s Front of Judia was pure genius. It’s still funny. Many different versions of the question still get asked today.

So - ‘what has Pep Guardiola ever done for us?’. The question, of course, requires an answer.

His achievements at Barcelona are without question. He won everything time and again. And he won with style. He won with a brand of football that had us all drooling. Barca were sensational during that period. But - he had Messi. And the footballing microsurgeons would argue that he inherited a team that Frank Rijkaard had built. A Rijkaard team that had started winning trophies again before Guardiola succeeded the Dutchman.

How often is it the case that a man’s greatest strength can also be his greatest weakness? That’s true in many other walks of life. Take Messi. Wonderful footballer. For some - the best ever. His talent is without question. I watched him tear Arsenal apart single handedly one CL night. He was unplayable. But - and there is always a but - those closest to Barca will tell you he’s a difficult boy to handle and popular myth has it that Guardiola tired of his demanding behaviour. So he left.

Next stop Bayern - with one objective - win the CL. Remember, he got the job in the December/January of a season that was shaping up to be ok under Jupp Heynckes, but nothing more. What an irony then that Heynckes went on to complete an incredible treble, which included winning the CL! That really left Guardiola with nowhere to go. He won titles and cups - but didn’t get near the one thing that he was employed to deliver - the CL. So - hit or miss?

I’ve no idea. I didn’t see enough of Bayern to make any kind of decision. Ok, he missed out on the big one - without Messi - but there are some who believe what he did during his time in Germany laid the foundation of their WC win 2014, although what Joachim Low would make of that, again, I’m not sure.

Next stop was City of course. And he would’ve been there 12 months before he took it had it not been for us at beINSPORTS. You’ve got to have a grasp of the politics of the region I now live in to understand that. The deal was done around about January of 2015. I said so and so my did Arabic colleagues at beINSPORTS. That was enough to send City’s Abu Dhabi based owners into meltdown. There was no way they were having their thunder stolen like that - so Pellegrini was very publicly given that contract extension but the buying of Guardiola’s targets started.

We’ve marvelled at some of the football played by his City. It’s been joyous. Resisting Liverpool as they did last season was incredible. Winning a domestic treble had never been done. There’s been De Bruyne’s grace. Sterling’s fleet of foot. Aguero’s goals. Kompany’s leadership. Silva’s magic. But.....

The holy grail at City is the CL. They haven’t been close under Guardiola. Ok, so they were ‘unlucky’ last season. So we’re a few other teams. City haven’t even made a final. Nor has Guardiola - without Messi. Today’s (Monday) last 16 draw doesn’t make the job anymore inviting this season.

Back to those microsurgeons. Yes, there was the unprecedented treble, but have City won anything that they didn’t under the previous two managers? No, they haven’t. It was Mancini that laid the foundation stones. He turned City from the team that won ‘cups for cocks ups’ into winners. Into believers. Into believing that they could adapt to adversity and get over the line. Agueroooooooo. I rest my case.

City have gone backwards. There’s no excuse for not being able to cope with injuries. Not when you’re the richest club in the world. Not when you’ve got the best part of £100m worth of central defenders that you’ve bought but now don’t fancy. Same with the left-back.

I’m hearing that Guardiola is all but done at City. The smart money says he’s off to coach Beckham’s Inter Miami and will be in charge of the US national team in time for the 2026 WC. If that’s true - does he leave City a hit or a miss?

Well done again Big Dunc. If he keeps producing results Everton will have to give him the job - but it would be a mistake in my opinion. They need more than raw ‘passion’ (a word I hate). Dunc got a tune out of tue Toffees again at OT, but what he did to Moise Kean wasn’t just unnecessary, it was unforgivable. Shame on you big man.

As I write it looks as though Mikel Arteta is in the box seat for Arsenal. If it’s his I wish him well. Arsenal are drifting - rudderless - and an appointment needs to be made quickly. My ideal man would be Carlo Ancelotti - a serial winner with ALL the big clubs. He’s experienced. He knows how to handle big players. He’s a class act. He’s available. I don’t see an argument for not giving him the job. If they don’t, Arsenal’s loss would be Everton’s gain - if they could persuade the Italian to join them. I don’t get the ‘dither and delay’ at Goodison. They’ve shaken hands with David Moyes, but have now backed off. Why? For Ancelotti - ok. For Duncan - not for me.

And today’s stunning stat to finish with. Stats can tell you anything you want depending on how you read them - so make of this what you will. Manchester United are one point worse off than they were at this time a year ago when they sacked Mourinho!!