The News (Nigeria)
Behind the Money – The Secrets to Manchester City’s Title Run
Written by: Rohan Philip
They completed the century-points mark in probably the last kick of the entire season when Gabriel Jesus chipped to score against McCarthy.
When Vincent Kompany walked up to the podium following City’s 0-0 draw against Huddersfield Town at home, an air of excitement, of accomplishment fell over every single person in the stands. City had finally done it. They had well and truly bossed the Premiership. They could without question say that they were the best team in the division.
Most numbers of points in a season, most numbers of goals, earliest title victory, the records just keep rolling in for the Citizens. However, Manchester City never found themselves too far away from the critics saying that they had bought their way to the title. With City spending close to £360 million over the course of Guardiola’s reign so far, an argument can be made in support of these critics, but there is so much more to City than just their investment on players.
City’s growth under Guardiola can be attributed to a few different factors. A major one of these would have to be the man himself. Guardiola is undoubtedly one of the greatest football minds the world has ever seen. To truly understand the secrets to his and City’s success we will travel back in time by a few decades when a young upstart playing as a left winger at La Masia was scouted by Johan Cruyff who switched him to a position lying just in front of the back four, the pivot.
Pep credits his success to the teachings of Johan Cruyff
Guardiola would go on to firmly establish himself as one of the mainstays of Cruyff’s Cules, making the pivot his own in the process, a position that he has deployed the likes of Busquets, Alonso and most recently Fernandiniho in, over the course of his managerial career. The ‘Total football’ philosophy that he was taught at Barcelona has stayed with him and shone through in all the teams that he has managed.
While it may be true that City has spent an exorbitant amount of money on bringing in new talent from all around the world, the end almost justifies the means as almost all of the big money signings that Guardiola has made have come good. It is also worth noting that a vast majority of these signings are young players who will only get better with experience, making Manchester City an incredibly frightening prospect for the other teams in the Premier League and indeed all over Europe.
Raheem Sterling, who arrived as an immature, largely ridiculed youngster for enormous money, has proven his critics wrong and has 24 goals this season. Along with the likes of Bernado Silva, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne, Sterling acts as a testament to Guardiola’s incredible ability to bring out the best in his players.
They scored 105 goals in 37 matches, averaging 2.8 goals per game
Manchester City boasts almost the perfect blend of youth and experience, with the senior players like Kompany and Toure imparting the experience and game sense that they have gained over their illustrious careers to the younger players. This influence is easily dismissed but is invaluable in the development of a youngster. The class of ’92 point to Eric Cantona as their source of inspiration and the person from whom they learned to carry themselves in the game.
The youth at Man City would do well to use their seniors as the same. While Guardiola has integrated a lot of youth in his squad, he has also eased out players who did not have as much to offer the football club, thus allowing the club to progress and blossom.
Squad depth is one of the Cityzens’ greatest strengths, having the ability to win a game with practically any team they field. This is down to the changes in the training regime that Guardiola brought with him when he arrived from Bayern Munich. The drills are designed to get players to trust each other and to move the ball quickly with a maximum of two touches on the ball.
Delph proved to be crucial for the EPL Champions
The training ground is separated into several zones and the players are instructed to operate within their zones alone until the ball is in the final third of the pitch, thus heightening the positional sense of the players. This inevitably translates into games, with Fernandinho doing the dirty work from his midfield base and players like Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva pulling the strings further up the pitch and the players rarely being caught out of position.
While Manchester City may not be the best Premier League team of all time as several have touted them to be, they still possess an undeniable aura of efficiency and nonchalance in their play. The team rarely had to move out of second gear all season and still played some of Europe’s top teams off the park. This is not to say that City are the finished product.
Losses to Liverpool and Manchester United prove that there is still some work to be done. But, the very fact that this team can still improve and become even better than they now are, should strike tremendous fear into the hearts of the rest of the teams in the league.
Throughout the history of the top tier of English football, there have been certain moments that have proven to be turning points in the history of a team and indeed the league itself. A team that spends the amount of money that Manchester City has, is bound to have its share of critics, but results and silverware speak volumes and we might well have experienced a turning point in the history of Man City and the Premier League this season.
Published: Sat May 19, 2018 04:29 PM IST