Following Manchester City’s defeat in the round of 16 of the EFL Cup at the hands of Manchester United on Wednesday night, the result sets an ugly record for Pep Guardiola. For the first in his illustrious coaching career, the Catalan has gone 6 fixtures without a win, and it’s not the best of signs.
While the winless run is just another record like his earlier 10-game consecutive wins, a lot of people will once again question his ability to excel in the EPL and agree he isn’t quite extraordinary without a super squad under him.
Yaya Toure’s agent Dimitri Seluk is probably having a time of his life right now and wishing Pep more ill luck. Like many, he reiterated that all Guardiola’s success till date had boiled down to having the Messis, Xavis, Lewandowskis and Mullers at his call.
How long will it take before many start to believe that theory? How many more games will City need to lose and draw? How many more club veterans will he fall out with?
Until the Derby win of September, Pep hasn’t had the stiffest of tests and challenges as his side made light work of Sunderland, Stoke and West Ham in his first 3 fixtures of the league.
However, draws against Celtic, Everton and Southampton, worsened by heavy losses to Tottenham and Barcelona haven’t helped matters, and has left people to wonder what is going on with the highly revered coach. His most recent Derby loss will only add more salt to the injury.
21 trophies in 7 years is by no means an easy feat, and Guardiola is unarguably one of the best ever there is in this job, but he must prove it beyond any doubt once again. This is his biggest managerial challenge till date, and every result will be thoroughly scrutinized.
In the EPL, a manager’s average life span is between 6 and 18 months, and while his position is no way under any threat, there isn’t much time on his side.
Manchester City employed him for a long-term project, and the foundational works are being put in place, but patience isn’t a big virtue in England.
10 games and it appeared his players were beginning to settle well into the new philosophy and life under Pep, 6 games afterwards and everybody looks confused and in need of some dire direction as to what to do exactly with the ball and without it.
The mistakes can’t be pointed to as excuses as the results are the only evidences available to draw conclusions from. And recent ones haven’t been anywhere near convincing. An away game to the defensively-minded West Brom is next, while Barcelona pay the Etihad a visit after that.
Definitely not the best games to play at this time, and the 2 outcomes will go a long way in breaking or making his team’s shattered confidence. A win against Barcelona will particularly be a great booster, and could see City regain his swagger.
However, winning just a game or 2 won’t change my minds overnight. City’s problems in the last 2 seasons have been consistency, and just when Guardiola seemed to have brought a final solution, the club relapsed.
Pep Guardiola divides opinions amongst EPL followers, and he needs to show what he is capable of. If he is really capable. And only a title win or a great Champions League campaign will be used as yardsticks. Until then, many will keep asking questions, and hope he provides the right answers.