The arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City
When Manuel Pellegrini departed, Manchester City recruited the world’s best Manager; Pep Guardiola. Pep Guardiola revolutionized Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The expectations were high but the reality was that Pep Guardiola inherited an aging squad especially the fullbacks. The fullbacks play an important role in Modern day football.
Before the season, the major signings were Claudio Bravo, Leroy Sane, John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito.
|Leroy Sané||20||Germany||FC Schalke 04||£45.45m|
|Ilkay Gundogan||25||Germany||Borussia Dortmund||£24.30m|
|Nolito||29||Spain||Celta de Vigo||£16.20m|
Manchester City got a flying start with 10 undefeated games across Premier League, League Cup, and Champions League. After 10 undefeated matches, Tottenham Hotspur defeated them.
The real problem started when they faced Barcelona in the Champions League group stage fixture where Claudio Bravo turned out to be the villain. He got red-carded for handling outside the penalty box.
That was the start of Claudio Bravo’s decline at Manchester City. Fans were disappointed by the poor display of performance by Bravo. The fans missed Joe Hart who left on loan for Torino as Pep Guardiola benched him at the start of the season.
He wanted to play a goalkeeper with better footwork. Pep Guardiola wanted to build attacks from the back so Bravo seemed to be the perfect man for him. Claudio Bravo played good with his feet but failed to stop simple shots on goal.
Fullbacks and Center Backs
Guardiola strategy involved playing high up the pitch. The old legs of Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Bacary Sagna started to show up when they lost possession as they were not able to track back which resulted in deadly counter-attacks.
Vince Kompany suffered from injuries. Guardiola played John Stones in place of him. John stones played well with his feet but he turned out to be a flop as he was not able to make even the simplest of the tackles.
Nicolas Otamendi enjoyed the best of his form at the latter end of the season. Vincent Kompany returned at the end of the season games. The city looked like a different team after his return.
Yaya Toure Problem
He played in the second round of the Champions League playoff against Steaua Bucuresti, Guardiola dropped Yaya Toure in the Champions League. After left out of the squad, his agent Dimitri Seluk said that Guardiola humiliated Toure by not including him in the starting lineup.
In response to Seluk’s comments, Guardiola announced that Toure is not part of the team until he receives an apology. A few weeks later, Toure apologized to Pep Guardiola on behalf of his agent, Toure made a surprising return to the first team on November 16.
He started against Crystal Palace. In that match, he scored two consecutive goals which helped the team to win 2-1 over Crystal Palace.
Ilkay Gundogan showed the best of his form against Barcelona in the Champions League, in which Manchester city defeated Barcelona with 3-1. On 14th December, Gundogan suffered an injury and left the pitch in the 44th minute.
The club confirmed that Gundogan tore his cruciate ligaments in his right knee and missed the whole season.
David Silva Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho
Kevin De Bruyne topped Premier League chart with 18 assists but failed to convert easy chances. He scored only 6 league goals, hitting the woodwork 9 times.
David Silva played a major role in midfield providing 7 assists and completing most passes in the team.
Fernandinho turned out as the key player for Pep. He played at various positions. Fernandinho played as Right back due to the injury of Bacary Sagna as well as the poor performance at that position by Zabaleta and Jesus Navas.
Gabriel Jesus made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur F.C. He started as a substitute. A few seconds later he scored but judged offside.
In a thrilling match against Swansea City Jesus played a vital role by scoring twice which included a stoppage-time goal. In his fourth game, Jesus underwent an injury that forced him out of the 2016-17 Premier League season.
Leroy Sane turned out to be among the stand out player for Manchester City at the left wing. With his speed and physical ability, he caused a major problem for opponent defenders throughout the season.
Sergio Aguero scored 33 goals for Manchester City but failed to score easy goals according to his standards which were one of the major reasons for City’s decline considering the number of chances created.
Pep Guardiola had a trophy-less season. His philosophy had brought flair to the Manchester City style of play. The team looked like to be scoring every time they attacked but failed to convert easy chances.
They needed a dynamic player like Alexis Sanchez or a striker who can play along with Aguero and Jesus.
At the end of the season, the major signings included young Goalkeeper Ederson, attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva as the long-term replacement for David Silva. Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker were signed for left back and Danilo for Right Back position. Aymeric Laporte was signed as a long-term replacement for Vincent Kompany.
|Aymeric Laporte||23||France||Athletic Bilbao||£58.50m|
|Benjamin Mendy||23||France||AS Monaco||£51.75m|
|Kyle Walker||27||England||Tottenham Hotspur||£47.43m|
|Bernardo Silva||22||Portugal||AS Monaco||£45.00m|
The players who left included Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, Samir Nasri Gael Clichy, Fernando, Wilfried Bony, Nolito, and Kelechi Iheanacho.