The reality is that football managers are judged on results. And based on the results Pep Guardiola has achieved at Manchester City with the players at his disposal, I’d give him no more than a three or four out of 10 this season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Man United will definitely win on Thursday, because the game could go either way.
But there’s no way City should be nervously wondering whether or not they are going to make the top four with the squad and resources they have — and Guardiola has to shoulder the blame for that.
The idea that they’d not win a trophy wasn’t in the script when they hired the Spaniard, and finishing outside of the Champions League places certainly wasn’t either.
Now I’m reading that Sheikh Mansour will throw north of £250million at a revamp of the squad in the summer.
But if I was him, I’d be more inclined to tell Guardiola he has to work with what he has got.
I’d be saying, ‘You’re supposed to be the world’s best manager. Go and make these players much, much better, in the way Claudio Ranieri did with Leicester and Antonio Conte has done with Chelsea’.
Instead, it seems Guardiola is just saying, ‘I’ll get it right eventually… as long as you give me a quarter of a billion quid.’
And that’s just not great management, it’s the epitome of chequebook management.
Leroy Sane apart, I’m struggling to think of a player Guardiola has genuinely improved over the course of this season.
Of course, there’s a good chance that this time next year we will be talking about him as a success again but only because City will have thrown so much money at it that they cannot fail.
And I’ll go back to a point I’ve made before — only if Guardiola took a Blackburn, a Swansea, a Hull and made them a success would I fully buy into his hype.
Yes, there was that spell of 10 wins at the start of the season, but it was as if opposing teams thought the Harry Potter of football had turned up, waving his magic wand on the sidelines and no one was allowed to beat his side.
Then they went, ‘Hang on, they’re playing it back to the goalkeeper, they’re a bit shaky in defence… if we chase them down a bit more often and hassle them we’ll get something here’, and it busted the myth.
Now City face a real test against United and Guardiola against his old nemesis, Jose Mourinho.
United are in good fettle, and it will be interesting to see what approach Mourinho takes on Thursday night. I’d press high, press often, and be even more aggressive than against Chelsea.
If the Reds get on the attack then Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial will be able to sniff blood.
And if they can puncture City’s skin then I wonder if one or two Blue Moonies might not be a million miles from turning.
What mark would YOU give Guardiola for this season?
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