So for the first time as a manager Pep Guardiola, hasn’t won the proverbial ‘pot’ to p*ss in, albeit conventional wisdom has it he would normally drink champagne from trophies won with Barcelona and, or, Bavarian beer from silverware gained with Bayern Munich.
But what of it?
City’s Catalan boss is arguably the most gifted coach of his generation and among the most successful football managers of all time…and he’s only been at it for eight years.
And yet, not only do we have the traditional City haters on the TV, radio and in the press, seeking to ridicule Guardiola, we have that most wonderful of modern day mediums – ‘social’ media – in full swing.
Sir Winston Churchill – one of Britain’s finest ever leaders – once said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
Similarly, one might say that the best argument against social media are the 140 characters from tw@ts on Twitter, along with the unlimited consonants and vowels from fools on Facebook, calling for City to sack Pep.
You’d expect it from the likes of the Swamp-dwellers, the Bin-dippers, the Chavs and the Gooners – the latter obviously still giddy at the match winning FA Cup semi final performance of their star man, Craig Pawson.
Regrettably we also have City fans undermining the manager of their club.
Well, the Pep debate has been raging for months among City fans and, in an age of avarice and impatience where everybody wants success and they want it NOW, some want Guardiola gone.
Whatever happened to playing the long game?
No – not the long ball game – rather the game that gives a genius adequate time to once again, prove that he is just that – a damn sight more intelligent than those at ‘Cretins R Us’ Central.
When Pep arrived in Manchester last summer he said he was here to learn. He admitted he was stepping out of his comfort zone, adding he wasn’t here to revolutionise English football.
On the contrary, he was trading virtually assured success at Bayern Munich for the lottery of the Premier League.
So far he hasn’t come up with the winning ticket, but most level-headed City fans are betting he will in 2017/18 and beyond.
Undeniably, City’s team and squad has not proven worthy of winning titles or cups this season. The reasons are manifold and well documented, but just to briefly recap; ageing full backs, a goalkeeping farce, injuries to key personnel, profligacy in front of goal and yes, some tactical errors.
Pep may indeed be a genius, but he’s far from perfect. Nonetheless, I’d have him as City manager above every other coach on the planet.
Let’s also – unashamedly – look at the role of the 12th man throughout this season – you know the one who more often than not lines up with City’s opponents, only he’s not actually wearing the red of United, Liverpool or Arsenal, the blue of Chelsea or the white of Spurs.
City have been right royally rogered by Mike Riley and his band of merry PGMOL men like never before.
I don’t like City losing, but I readily accept City losing when it’s by fair means – not foul – prime examples being away games at Spurs 2-0, Barcelona 4-0, Leicester 4-2, Liverpool 1-0 and Monaco 3-1.
Most football fans complain about the inconsistency of referees.
City supporters are probably the exception – they complain about the breathtaking consistency of officials – referees and linesmen who hardly ever fail to screw Pep’s team, time and time again.
Craig Pawson’s clueless show at Wembley yesterday will be a top contender for PGMOL’s Prize Member of the Week Award.
It’ll be right up there with the finest offerings of Messrs Marriner, Taylor, Dean, Oliver, Mason, Clattenburg…the list goes on over 2016/17.
In the wake of the FA Cup semi final debacle – one where Arsenal were given license to kick David Silva out of the game after just 20 minutes and City had a perfectly legitimate goal disallowed – Yaya Toure has suggested a way forward.
Referring to the upcoming Manchester derby, Yaya said: “Maybe on Thursday we are going to have a better referee or maybe play without a referee – I’d prefer that.”
So, there you go, it’ll be ‘Jumpers for goalposts’ and maybe ‘First one to score ten wins’ – why not?
In all seriousness, the ref for the derby – Martin Atkinson – does appear to be one of the less toxic examples from Riley’s Kingdom, albeit he does have ‘previous’ from United’s infamous 4-3 win over City in September 2009.
With City having grabbed a deserved 90th minute Craig Bellamy equaliser, Atkinson contrived to play Double Fergie Time with extra cream and a cherry on top, to enable Michael Monotone Drone Owen to score the winner.
Seven years and seven months on, a win against United would take City back up to third place – four points above Mourinho’s mob, one point ahead of Liverpool, and still with a game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Champions League football is imperative for City as Pep seeks to shape his team and his squad in the summer transfer window.
City are being linked with countless number of prospective signings, but the clever money is on the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Benjamin Mendy, Danny Rose and Aymeric Laporte to transform the defence, with Ederson Moraes to come in as City’s number one keeper.
A fit Vincent Kompany could’ve made such a difference in defence over the duration of the season, as would a 100% Ilkay Gundagon in midfield. Had Gabriel Jesus not been ruled out for the past 10 weeks, who’s to say how many of those chances created would’ve been converted?
For those rushing to judge Guardiola – many of whom are still romanticizing Roberto Mancini’s return – just give him that four letter word…time.
As for Sheikh Mansour, he’ll need to do the same, plus a couple of hundred million pounds to make City truly competitive on all levels, not forgetting a few quid for the silver polishing cloths for May 2018.
By David Walker
City fan Dave Birty was the winner – selected at random by InCrowdApparel – in the Read But Never Red ‘Loud, Proud, Loyal, THIS IS OUR CITY’ T-Shirt Competition.
Dave will have the uniquely designed City T-shirt in time for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday night. He selected City’s famous 1-0 home win against United in 2012 as the Sky Blue’s most important derby win of recent times.
The % of votes cast were
1-0 FA Cup Semi-Final 2011 34%
6-1 Away 2011 29%
1-0 Home 2012 37%
If you want to ensure you are the proud owner of this great City T-shirt you can order directly from www.incrowdapparel.com
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu