Who’d bet on Pep staying?

Published: Monday, 05 October 2020

Well that caused a bit of a stir didn’t it? The reaction was extra-ordinary. I’ll share it with you.

I’m not talking about the spanking United took - which could easily have happened at Brighton the week before - or the seven that Liverpool somehow shipped at Villa. No - I’m talking about my throw away line that Guardiola could do with asking Big Sam how to get his team to defend properly. I actually added ‘or Roy Hodgson - somebody that knows what they’re doing’.

I was talking with Andy on beINSPORTS. Oh - the Podcast is back by the way - and available on whatever platform you download yours from. As ever - my mind wonders as I write and I digress. But check it out.

So. Guardiola. My point to Andy was simple - and I’ve made it here before. How can any coach spend £400m on defenders - largely centre-backs - and not make any of them better? None of them. Some aren’t even at the club now - and half those that are I’m sure they like to give away. It’s been one failure after another. And Guardiola is supposed to be a ‘super-coach’. In any other business - profligate waste like that would see a line manager sacked. Maybe even a line of managers all the way to the top of the company. It’s scandalous.

Guardiola gets away with it because he’s surrounded by all the people he would wish to be at City - and because there’s no doubt he’s delivered some beautiful football for us to watch. What he hasn’t done - in either Munich or Manchester - is deliver the one trophy he was employed to win. You can refer back to previous blogs for more on that!

Right now City look a bit of a mess. Guardiola was buying more centre backs right up to the time the window shut - whilst leaving others, that he bought in the summer, on the sidelines at Leeds. My mind is wondering off the subject again -another question - how can a club that’s spent billions be short of a centre forward? And why isn’t there one coming through the ranks?

At different times this season City will rip teams apart. But will they still do it to the big teams? That’s how we judge a side - or an individual - on what they do in the big games. James Rodriguez has had a very good start at Everton - but they haven’t played anybody yet. I’d ‘expect’ a player like him to make an impact in the sunshine against second rate opposition. For me - the jury is still out. I’ve been more impressed with Allan. I hope you’re taking notes Mr Reade. I trust you’re also enjoying this blog - and thanks for the mention.

Anyway - Guardiola and defending. Or rather - his inability to make a defender better - or his team ‘solid’.  I couldn’t believe it when what I’d said started trending on Twitter. Of course, a comment like that is always going to stir the die-hards up so the inevitable abuse was going to follow. But - it was when I started getting messages from PL managers - including a late night whats app from across the pond - that I realised I’d hit on something. It seems half the PL have been thinking the way I do. The most common message was ‘spot on’ - time and again.

As much as Guardiola has been able to able to impress those of us who write - those of us who watch - he hasn’t been able to persuade a whole host of his fellow coaches that he invented football.

No-one has ever doubted that City have been a delight to watch at times. The way they held Liverpool off in their last title season was incredible - but they had Vincent Kompany in that side. A player Guardiola didn’t buy.

‘Ah, but he didn’t play in many games’ you’ll hear people say. True. Just the big ones - and he settled those. Same with David Silva last season. Again - I refer you to previous blogs on Guardiola and his spending. I don’t want to get too deeply into it all here.

Another question - why hasn’t Guardiola signed a new contract? I don’t usually stick my neck out with predictions unless I’ve heard something. This is genuinely just a hunch. I don’t believe he’s going to. If he was going to stay - again I ask - why hasn’t he signed a new deal? It can’t be because the financials don’t work. He’s already the highest paid coach in English football history. It can’t be because he hasn’t been allowed to sign players. It certainly isn’t ‘because I have to earn it’ as he said recently. What does that mean? Is he saying he’s so far failed in the job that he was brought in to do? If so - that makes me right again. No - it can’t be for any of the usual reasons. So sign Pep.

My guess is he walks at the end of the season and turns up some little time later in Paris. I’m amazed that Thomas Tuchel is still in charge there. I thought he’d get the sack after the CL final. If he doesn’t start winning a few games soon he still might - but it makes sense to me to keep Tuchel in the job until the owners can make the change that they have always dreamt of.

I could be very wrong. I remember the whole world telling me how wrong I was when I announced that Guardiola was next in line at City a full 18 months before he took the job.  I had good information then so I knew it was going to happen - I repeat - this time it’s just a hunch.

What a weekend it turned out to be. Absolutely incredible. There hasn’t been one like it. There never will be another like it.

The game at Villa Park was a one-off. I was delighted for Villa mind you. Jurgen Klopp spoke really well on the whistle. He didn’t make excuses - he was honest and he took it like a man. Good on him.

But the result At Old Trafford should frighten the life out of United fans. Just as I said Mr Reade as Fergie retired ‘United are eight short’. Again - I got hammered. But they were. Van Persie’s goals covered up a multitude of sins and proved that one player can win a title. Fergie went at the right time and so did David Gill - and David Moyes inherited a mess - top to bottom.

The demise at United reminds me so much of the pain Liverpool inflicted on themselves post Dalglish in 1990. They just kept getting it wrong - throwing bad money after bad. United are making all the same mistakes - and more.

I’m sorry - but step one in any recovery HAS to be to appoint a manager that will tempt big names to join United again. The former manager of Molde and Cardiff isn’t going to do that. Solskjaer looks lost in headlights every time I see him. His appointment was wrong - as I said at the time Mr Reade. Another present. You’re welcome my friend.

How many of the current United team can get better? Rashford can. Fernandes as well. And Wan-Bissaka. Anymore? No. That’s it. The rest are already at their peak or past it. That’s really concerning.

More surgery is required - and this time it’s got to include Mr Ed. He’s way beyond his sell by date. Do you know who I’d put in? Gary Neville. Gary knows the club. He knows how business works and he’s realised that he isn’t a coach. So why not? He really couldn’t do any worse. If United don’t make some serious changes there’s only one way they’re going now. This time it’s critical.