This has to be Pep Guardiola’s toughest mission.
Barcelona were steeped in a history and a tradition that Pep was already used to, understood and knew inside out. The transformation from player to manager is never easy, but it was going to be a lot simpler at the Nou Camp than at many other places.
At Bayern Munich, a similar thing occurred… he rode in on the back of success. Bayern are the most decorated club in Germany by a country mile, with players that he just couldn’t fail to deliver further glory with.
His arch rival Jose Mourinho, once said cryptically without naming Pep, that a manager can gain success anywhere if he goes to the right team with the right players.
But at Manchester City, it’s a different story. There isn’t a long tradition of success, only recent, and some of the squad are world class, but most are not. Here are FIVE challenges for Pep at the Etihad…
It’s been said of a few clubs in the Premier League that now they have new managers things will change with regard to personnel.
At City, a total re-build isn’t necessary, but the spine of the team needs mending. Pep cannot rely on the injury prone Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart looks shaky, Sergio Aguero needs a striking partner and a defensive midfielder would be a start.
The defence is looking older and last year gave cause for concern. The team isn’t in bad shape,but work needs to be done.
They have always wanted success, and why not?
They’ve sunk millions of pounds into City over the years and transformed them into Champions League semi-finalists. They pay well, they bring the players that the manager wants into the club and they now have one of the best coaches in the world.
Their expectation will be the highest it has been and on the back of last season, they will want the Premier League title – nothing less will do.
The club got very close last year and almost reached the final.
This coming season, the expectation will be simple – reach the big game and win it. The competition means the world to the owners and they were as dismayed as the supporters were when the team just didn’t show up in Madrid.
The experience they are buying into with Pep leads them to believe that glory is just around the corner and that means winning the Champions League, something Pep couldn’t do with Bayern.
Guardiola will quickly understand that the Premier League is like no other league he has experience of.
No more time on the ball and no more easy games, as the intensity, the speed, the tactics of so-called lesser clubs to take a top clubs scalp set in. The league will be a culture shock to the Spaniard.
Having left clubs that dominate and brush teams aside, one look at last season’s results will highlight how it works in the Premier League. Easy ride? Not here.
The partial re-build will need to be cut throat.
Other clubs around him will be building too. They will also have more money than ever before, but maybe not quite as much as Man City. The name Guardiola will ease the path for many targeted players to drop everything and jump on a plane to Manchester to sign, but Pep won’t have it all his own way. Across town, and despite the lack of Champions League football, Mourinho will use his charm and the name of Manchester United to lure players to him that will interest Pep.