£832,417,363 - and counting

Published: Monday, 31 May 2021

The more I read Saturday morning (May29) the more I became convinced that Chelsea would win the CL.

Regular beINSPORTS watchers will know that I’ve been tipping them to do it since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel -123 days ago. Wow. 123 days. Now that’s what I call genius. To win the CL in that short space of time. There’s something about him - his dynamism I guess - that’s always impressed me.

I’ve said it before - I wanted to dislike him because he’d taken Frank Lampard’s job. That’s how daft we can all be when it comes to football and our favourites. But - as Mourinho would say - from minute one - I was sold on him.

He’s always happy to talk. He strikes me as humble, but he’s certainly nobody’s fool.

He got Chelsea looking ‘strong’. Everything about them was powerful. It was as if their season only really started when he swept in.

N’Golo Kante rightly got all the plaudits after a massive performance against City, but someone who epitomises this Chelsea side is Antonio Rudiger. He couldn’t get into a Lampard team, but right now he’s arguably the best defender in the world. And I’ve been saying this for quite some time as well.

He’s a giant in that defence. The block to stop Foden scoring said everything about him. He would die for the cause. It’s that kind of leadership that rubs off on everybody around him.

I said last week that Chelsea needed two things to be sure of having a chance of winning it - Kante and Mendy - but I should’ve mentioned Rudiger.

Chelsea oozed determination. I wasn’t surprised to see that. Perhaps they’d read Saturdays newspapers? If I’d been Tuchel I’d have pinned them to the dressing room wall. Honestly. Talk about mis-placed adulation. It was a Guardiola love-fest. Most of the guys had City not just winning it, but winning it at a canter, before going on to dominate for another decade. Do you remember the one they were predicted to boss the year they last won the title? No. Nor me. They didn’t. And they won’t now either.

Guardiola has spun a web and somehow trapped most right minded football people in it. How? I just don’t get it. I never have.

Yes. He’s a serial winner. His teams ‘play the right way’. Perhaps that’s why he has so many disciples? I’d rather watch Leeds or Liverpool, but each to their own.

Guardiola should win things. He inherited a fabulous Barcelona side from Frank Rijkaard. It would’ve been impossible not to continue winning with Messi at his peak.

He won everything available in Germany. But everybody does. You can’t judge a Bayern coach on domestic success. That’s a given. The one they wanted was won by Heynckes and Flick either side of Guardiola’s time there. 

He’s carried on winning everything that City had previously won before he arrived at the Etihad. It’s been done with a swagger - and some performances have been sublime. But he hasn’t won the one thing he was employed to win.

I warned on Twitter Saturday morning that there might have to be some industrial sized egg wiping going on. And so it proved. City’s arrogance lost that final. They believed what was being written. They too thought they only had to turn up. As we know, they were wrong.

This is what drives me mad about Guardiola. In contrast to Tuchel, he always gives the impression that he’s doing you a favour during interviews. He looks down his nose sniffily frustrated that he’s got to waste his time with people that don’t have his football intellect. The crying because he’d decided to let Aguero leave was pathetic - and quickly exposed by Aguero’s brother - who told us all ‘Guardiola never wanted Sergio at City’. We knew that. It was obvious when he tried to frustrate him out soon after taking over. And again at the end of Aguero’s time there.

Why didn’t he start him against Chelsea? Too clever you see. Guardiola later talked about exposing ‘half pockets’ and ‘fake full-backs’ - ‘inside outs’ and ‘half presses’. How about ‘a hungry centre-forward that scores goals’?

His selection in mid-field was just as baffling - especially knowing that Kante was going to boss that area again. We all knew that, so play your ‘professional foul’ master to stop him. But no, no Fernandinho until it was too late.

City are good. Very very good. But their coach didn’t invent football and the sooner he stops believing he did the better. More than team selection, as I’ve said, the attitude was all wrong again.

So what next for Guardiola? Well another few hundred million spent in the summer will invigorate everybody at the Etihad. And Guardiola will soon pass the billion pound spend since taking charge at City. Record points totals - domestic trebles - another title - none of it really matters. Any good coach could do that with the same tools as his disposal. The one City want still eludes them. Guardiola was appointed to win it. He hasn’t.

Well done Brentford. It’s great to see them up. They’re a club that does things their own way. They don’t ‘follow the crowd’. I haven’t been, but the new stadium adjacent to the A4 looks fantastic. They’re a welcome addition to the PL and I believe the 45th different team to play in it.

It’s admirable that they’ve stuck by their beliefs, but I’ll say this. I don’t know who or how - but they’re going to need more than they’ve got to survive. That’s one thing the ‘crowd’ have proven down the years.