When I started writing this, out of curiosity I googled when it was that Joey Barton mooned some Everton fans, it was a mere 12 years ago. Around that time I was travelling to watch City be beaten by Charlton, Reading and Wigan and couldn’t have imagined that in that short window City would become completely imperious domestically, and a real force to be reckoned with in Europe. Noisy neighbours, we are most definitely not anymore.
Cynically it is easy to say City under Pep have a lot of money, and there is no point pretending that top-level success is possible without big money backers, however, rich clubs do sometimes struggle in the league, and having money doesn’t necessarily mean it is always well spent. Clever decisions need to be made or you can be saddled with expensive players on huge wages who are just getting a run out in the Carabao Cup a couple of times a season.
Pep inherited some fantastic players that were well established in the team, De Bruyne, Aguero, Silva to name but a few, however, he has managed some exceptional signings, Gundogan being his first, setting a high bar. Obvious standouts with regards to goals to their names would be Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus, and the genius signing of Ederson.
There have obviously been a few less successful signings, and that is inevitable, however generally Pep has a good eye for the transfer market, and being able to bring new talent in, as well as developing and improving his current squad means there in constant competition to be in the starting line up. Meaning everyone needs to be at the top of their game all of the time, even Aguero has seen the likes of Jesus snapping at his heels as the chief striker.
This means that there is no getting a two-goal cushion in matches and sitting back, everyone plays ruthlessly and to their best all of the time, which means they often get impressive scorelines, further cementing their reputation, and making them hard to crack, as they simply don’t switch off
Tactically City are remarkable to watch, the pace, speed of passing, accuracy, pressing high and hard on and off the ball and remarkable amounts of possession help to make them so impressive. They have very much developed their own style of play, which did take some time to perfect.
Guardiola’s’ first season took a lot of adjustment and some fans were underwhelmed with the first set of results. However, with players adapting increasingly well to this, and domestically at least, other teams finding this very hard to play against, City are looking seasons ahead of other teams.
Football that people, and most importantly the fans want to watch is good for everyone. Modern football is a pretty fickle affair, and managerial positions can be incredibly short-lived, and the longer clubs can keep off the merry-go-round the better for everyone.
Security can breed success, fans being happy with the manager means there is no pressure or negativity. The manager being secure in his role means the players are more secure in theirs, they have a place in the squad, they will not have to adapt their style of play to a new manager every season, and players stay long haul, which means they aren’t having to spend time adjusting to playing with huge number of new faces every season. Which means fewer mistakes on the pitch, better results, and more importantly, the fans and the board are happy.
Add this to the spending power it becomes a club players want to go to, which goes back to my earlier point about competition to be in the squad, meaning everyone is always playing as well as possible, which further feeds into getting excellent results. It’s a great cycle and it’s hard to see where this will fail.
It’s a fine balance, but currently, City have got it about right, and while the clubs history itself serves to show quickly things can change for better or worse, it’s hard to see a return to the days of finishing 15th, relegation and inflatable Bananas (which for what it’s worth I think are overdue a return).