It has been an inconsistent season for Manchester City and it is evident that their title charge is over with Liverpool already 22 points clear with just 13 games to go. They have suffered poor results against relegation threatened Norwich, losing at home in the Manchester derby and most recently dominating against Tottenham Hotspur but failing to win.
So with Liverpool keeping up their form from last season and substantially bettering it by romping towards their first title in 30 years, will Pep Guardiola be there to grab it back of them next season? The signs look like he will not be at the Etihad next season.
Manchester City, you could argue, despite winning the title last season are needing a rebuild. With David Silva leaving, Fernandinho in his 30s, lack of strength in defence and no real replacement for Sergio Aguero lined up. These are all things that need addressing at City but it looks unlikely Pep will be there.
With a squad the size of City they have all the ability and credentials to fight on all fronts to secure the trophy haul they managed last season. However, Guardiola is bemoaning the fact his squad is not strong enough; especially defensively. Since the departure of Vincent Kompany and the injury to Aymeric Laporte he has decided to play one of the most effective defensive midfielders in the league in Fernandinho at centre back despite the fact he has Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones as an option. Guardiola may have even shown faith to his 18 year old centre back Taylor Harwood-Bellis who has impressed for the youth sides but he has not decided to trust the promising youngster.
Guardiola’s history of “sticking around” at clubs is poor. This is the longest he has been at a club and with the points difference in the league and unconvincing Champions League progress it could be about to come to an end.
He is a serial winner and there is no questioning his ability as a world class manager but he has taken jobs where the squad needed that extra bit of training to become immense players rather than a rebuild. You just have to look at how he progressed the development of players such as Raheem Sterling, Pedro and Lionel Messi. There is even an argument that he extended Arjen Robben’s career and made him one of the unstoppable left wingers in the game even as he was in his 30s.
That is the quality that Guardiola has but he does not like the rebuild mission. When Manchester United came calling after Sir Alex Ferguson retired and again when Louis van Gaal was fired, Guardiola stayed clear. He saw the struggles United were to incur and realized there was a big job to be done; he wanted nothing to do with it.
When things are going well for Pep you see the good side but when they are going bad you see the bad side. He is not the happy go lucky friendly man we see in the media when his team are losing. These erratic changes in emotion can falter the side and after the defeat to Spurs they reportedly told him how it was.
If the rumours are to be believed then he was talking to the players for over 45 minutes as they told him to stop tinkering with the side and changing things too much. This is one step away from telling him who he should play!
Ultimately, you get the impression the Guardiola is finished with the league and he will solely focus on the Champions League as that is the only trophy he needs to win with City. However, even if he does not win the biggest prize in Europe he might be happy leaving Manchester with two Premier League title, two League Cups (possibly three) and one F.A Cup.
All that can be said is Pep Guardiola will be a big loss for Manchester City and the Premier League.