Man City meltdown that ended in the playground.

Published: Monday, 09 May 2022

Anyone that didn’t know how badly Guardiola took last week’s CL defeat only had to watch his post match interview Sunday. What on earth was that all about?

Look. I get it. I’ve seen enough of them. Post-match managers can be a little irritable and occasionally one daft question (or to be more accurate its usually a series of statements) too many sends them over the edge.

Klopp let himself down Saturday when he had a dig at how Spurs had set up. In fairness he recovered it a little when he admitted coaches have every right to make life as difficult as they can for the opposition - but he couldn’t ever send a team out like that.

That’s fine. But it isn’t the job of the opposition to set up so that Liverpool and City can play through them and score five or six. It’s why Guardiola loves Potter/Howe/Arteta and co. All the coaches that make life easy for his teams.

Anyway - back to the original point. I understand that frustration and disappointment can overwhelm a coach post-match. It’s a fractious time if things haven’t gone well. Klopp was disappointed and probably found himself saying something he didn’t really want to. That’s why he rowed back.

But listening to Guardiola took me back to the playground. ‘Miss - he doesn’t like me. Tell him. It’s not fair’. My goodness. Really? What? The Press don’t like City? And the country loves Liverpool? Come on. I can’t remember a time when Liverpool have ever been the neutrals darlings.

To suggest that the Press don’t want City to win trophies is laughable. No coach in the history of English football has ever been feted by a grovelling English Press the way Guardiola has. There have been times since he joined City that I’ve nearly been convinced that Guardiola invented football. It’s all ‘Pep this or Pep that’. Klopp is the one that has got a right to complain about bias if he wanted to go that route.

It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. It had obviously been simmering for days since City’s latest meltdown. He knew what was likely to follow their defeat in Madrid. He doesn’t like criticism. He doesn’t like inquisitors having the temerity to question him about football. His sarcasm if he hears something he doesn’t like is also childish.

The bottom line is he’s come up short again. He knows it. It seems he can’t win it - despite the billions. One job in Munich - failed. But the coach working either side of his tenure did win it. One job in Manchester - failed.

Tuchel won it in six months with somebody else’s team. Di Matteo also.

I’ve heard the jibe ‘ah, but look how long it took Fergie’. Yea. But let’s not forget that he had to pick United up from the floor - create a scouting system, a training facility, a stadium - the lot.

Guardiola walked into all that. Done. And then spent a billion. They even changed the laws of the game to suit him so that he could stand players in the box at goal kicks. What more do you need?

Both myself and Andy have always believed that not having a centre forward would eventually bite him. It did. As Andy said on BeINSPORTS - if he’d had Harry Kane at the club he’d have won the first leg by four or five. Kane wouldn’t have missed all those chances. The tie would’ve been beyond Madrid.

But more crucially perhaps - he hasn’t got any warriors. He’s got lovely footballers. Beautifully gifted footballers. They are capable of weaving mystical patterns - but which of them can ‘dig’ a result out?

We haven’t seen the pictures because the host broadcaster was concentrating on replays of the first Madrid goal - but how in earth can you concede a second 50 seconds after the first - and you’re in possession with a re-start? It was scandalous how City capitulated. You’ve got the ball ffs. Keep it. Put it in row Z. Whatever else - don’t give it back to the opposition. Two in 50 seconds? You’d think it impossible.

But even then you’ve got £500m worth of talent on the pitch for another 30 minutes. They didn’t raise so much as a whimper.

It was Guardiola’s fault. He’d have taken the credit - so he has to accept the blame. It wasn’t anything to do with the Press wanting Liverpool to win it - or the rest of the country. Never mind - this time next year Rodney.

Here’s one to keep an eye on. What I’m about to say will be met with the usual rebuttals - big how many times have we been proved right in this blog?

I keep hearing Chelsea want to go again - and build an English spine through their team. The new owners will want to make a statement and this might just be it.

They need a centre-back. Harry Maguire? What would he cost? £40/50 million? I’m pretty sure he’d jump at the chance of a new start.

The obvious one in mid-field would be Rice. Kante has all but run himself to a stand still. Rice would be a perfect replacement. Would West Ham sell? Of course they will if the money is right. I’d give you £150m for him all day long. If Rice pushes hard it might not take that much.

So who do they go for up front? Tuchel wants rid of Lukaku - that’s pretty obvious. But to where? Who’s got the most out of him during his career? Correct - the guy at Tottenham. So if Conti can be persuaded to stay - and he fancied working with Lukaku again - what could Spurs do to get him? They wouldn’t want to pay anything like Chelsea did for him. So - what about a player exchange? Two players worth £50m a-piece?

An English spine at Chelsea I said. So Son or Kulusevski wouldn’t interest them at The Bridge. That leaves one option. Yep. England’s No 9. Let’s see. A modern transfer is difficult enough - but three of that size in one summer would be incredible. I keep hearing it though - which is why I’ve shared it with you.