Pep Guardiola has not regained the league title in his coaching career. In fairness, he hadn’t tried this before. The only previous time he gave up the crown was in his final season in Barcelona, before his vacation. This is new territory for him.
It is rare for anyone to achieve it in the modern European game. The increased turnover of managers, along with the monopoly that exists in France, Germany and Italy, means that few find themselves in this position where they are required to recover something lost.
There was a time when it was commonplace. Stan Collis and Matt Busby regained the English title. Don Revi did it, as did Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. Howard Kendall and Kenny Dalglish exchanged the trophy, while George Graham restored it with Arsenal in 1991.
Only two coaches did so in the same period at the same club during the Premier League era. Arsene Wenger managed him once with Arsenal. Sir Alex Ferguson did it no less than five Times with Manchester United. Perhaps he is the man who takes care of such matters.
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New Manchester City player Ferran Torres tells Sky Sports why he is ready to make an immediate impact in the Premier League.
“You have to recover, as we have done many times,” he said before embarking on the campaign that will see the title recapture for the last time before his retirement in 2013.
“This is our goal this year. Priority number 1 is to win the title again. I think if you look back at different periods of recovery, when Arsenal won the title from us in 1998, we went and won the treble next year. So we accepted that challenge and did something about it. that.
“Then, when Chelsea came and kicked off the first two years into real players in the league, we had to change the pre-season a bit to make sure we started quickly. This allowed us to grab the title. It has happened three times in the last 14 to 15 years. The recovery is very important and the same applies. Just the thing this season. There is no difference. “
Guardiola belatedly started his bid to regain the Premier League trophy on Monday night in front of Sky Sports The cameras are already installed with Manchester City as the favorites, despite Liverpool’s dominance last season.
Manuel Pellegrini knows how it will go. But his bid to regain the title was miserable – resulting in City finishing the worst in the league and the lowest number of points in the decade.
There are some annoying similarities given the state of Guardiola’s contract, but the moods look a little different, however. There is optimism that City is ready for a new cycle.
The arrival of Ferran Torres provides a fresh impetus to the attack, to make up for the loss of Leroy Sané, who was unavailable throughout the past season anyway. There is hope that Phil Foden is ready to have a much greater impact after David Silva’s departure.
More encouragement comes from the headline numbers that explain why so many people continue to favor City. Guardiola’s side were still the Premier League’s top scorer last season and have conceded just two more goals than champions Jurgen Klopp.
The goal difference of 67-15 was better than Liverpool – a sign of their dominance in several of their matches and the reason they remain the scariest team on Earth. Nobody hits teams like Manchester City when they’re on the hook.
Guardiola’s problem, the reason they fail to retain the title, is what happens when they are unable to achieve that fluency. Games that don’t go their way. There were nine of them last season – nine defeats to the three Liverpool. The difference was.
This is why the wolves were competing with interesting opponents on Monday night. Nuno Espirito Santo scored a double over Manchester City last season. These two matches against Wolverhampton revealed a lot about why Guardiola’s defense for the title failed.
The match in Molino in December, a 3-2 defeat in which City lost a two-goal lead, was unfortunate because it included an early red card for Ederson that left 10 men.
But it was not unfortunate in another sense. The result was a fair reflection of the play – it was one of four matches last season in which City’s opponents had better chances, according to OPTA’s Expected Goals Model, which ranked the quality of the game’s chances.
This almost didn’t happen in City’s successive title win under Guardiola. There was a goalless draw at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve in 2017 when Ederson saved a late penalty and there was a 2–1 win over Liverpool in January 2019. That was the case.
Giving up better chances in four out of 38 games might not sound so devastating, but it was an indication of a loss of control that left City vulnerable to the vicissitudes of fortune.
The same projected goal data shows that there were indeed 17 matches in which City gave up opportunities that were expected to score the opponent at least once per match. That’s the number of matches in the previous two seasons combined.
Not that City deserved to lose nine games, let alone 17, but it left them vulnerable. The door was left averted, and they often found themselves being punished.
The other game against Wolverhampton – Defeat 2-0 at home at Al Ittihad Stadium October was the best example of this. City dominated the ball the whole time but came under attack twice in the final minutes with Adama Traore scoring the final goal both times.
Control of the counterattack, by fair or wrong means, was a key component of Guardiola’s success in City. For two seasons, his team did it brilliantly. Last season, they didn’t, and when they go wrong, it creates clear chances for the opponent.
The number of counterattacks that led to the opponent’s shot against Manchester City last season was 16 – twice what it had been in the previous two campaigns. Guardiola knows what went wrong, but what he needs now is how he can stop it this time.
Including center-back Nathan Aky from Bournemouth, he must ensure that there is more speed in defense, be it him or Emeric Laporte, and the kind of scenario that saw Traore participating in Fernandinho and Nicholas Otamendi will never be repeated.
More needs to be done before that to limit exposure to the back line, whoever is inside it, and here we expect more of Rodri in meeting the defensive requirements of the sorting role in midfield that Fernandinho has mastered in previous seasons.
If Manchester City can tackle these issues and make the required defensive adjustments, then a team that has averaged over 100 Premier League goals per season over the past three years should have more than enough to put themselves in the competition to regain the title.
If they cannot, Pep Guardiola’s first – and possibly last – attempt to regain the title with Manchester City will be doomed to failure. All eyes are on Molyneux.