Transfer deadline day made for one big, anticlimactic borefest. A few teams traded here and there but overall there was very little to talk about on the player front. The whole day would have been a waste had it not been for a little announcement at the Etihad which will change the landscape of elite European football...
As was reported extensively for many months, and has now been confirmed, Josep Guardiola is to become the new manager of Manchester City for the start of the 2016/17 season. So what does this appointment mean for the Citizens and indeed the rest of Europe’s top clubs?
Having followed Pep’s path intensely from his promotion as Barcelona’s B team coach to now his time at Bayern, there is a lot to be said for what may now happen at City so here’s my top 5:
1. Player & Formation Rotation
One thing to know about Pep is that he’s obsessive. He will constantly strive for perfection and in stark contrast to the saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ the Catalan man will tinker more than Claudio Ranieri would with a 100 man squad.
Guardiola likes to work with a tight-knit first team and will ideally only have 15 or 16 players he changes between. These 16 will be constantly in and out of starting line-ups as well as in a variety of different positions.
Pep doesn’t believe in ‘set formations’ but will change his team’s positions almost every week, from his 4-3-3 false nine predominantly adopted at Barcelona to a crazy 2-3-5 once fielded in Munich and everything in between.
2. Change of Emphasis
Anyone who is expecting to see nice, pretty ‘tiki-taka’ football at the Etihad doesn’t know Pep at all. He hates it. Passing must have intent and the quicker the ball moves the easier it is to displace oppositions defensive structure.
His main philosophy above all else is to dominate the centre of the pitch and attack. He likes to play with one holding player known as the ‘pivot’ then pack as many creative players into the middle as possible (expect David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to flourish!)
3. Transfers In & Out
Yaya Toure looks like a deadman walking. Having already started to show signs of slowing down and a clear unwillingness to tailor his game accordingly, I expect him to be one of the first ‘big names’ out the door creating a case of ‘deja vu’ from the coach and players time together at Barca. Other players heading for the exit could include Bony, Navas and Fernando.
In terms of signings, as stated expect central players. Thiago is his gem having taken him to Bayern with him so he may possibly join up with Pep again. The only issue is that the owners will want a marquee name through the door to start the ‘Guardiola era’ so I imagine after failing to attract Messi or Neymar, the main City signing may well be either Robert Lewandowski or Paul Pogba. The latter is a ready made Toure replacement and one which is young enough for Pep to mould into his ultimate midfielder.
4. Youth Production
City, much to the envy of world football have a state of the art, £200 million training complex and youth academy. One thing that can be levelled at Man City amongst others (Chelsea I’m looking at you) is the near non-existent presence of academy players in the first XI.
Having stated before his desire to coach at youth level in the latter stages of his illustrious career, Pep will be casting a very keen eye over all of City’s up and coming prospects whilst trying to implement his own brand of football throughout in the hope he can produce the next Sergio Busquets.
5. Serious European Contenders
Make no bones about it, for the money they’ve spent the Sky Blues' European record in their short history thus far is abysmal. Once given time to fully integrate his own ideas and methods, the Blue half of Manchester will be more than capable of lifting the Champions League.
I also expect them to dominate the Premier League in the coming years, similar to what we saw of Chelsea’s Mourinho in his first stint at the club but with far sexier football. They will cast a colossal shadow over their withering United neighbours and will be able to be classed on a level with the giants of the game such as Real, Barca and Bayern.
All in all I see this appointment as a shift of power, not just in Manchester, but across world football for the next decade. Pep can make City unstoppable.