Originally published on Sixth Feb
Pep Guardiola is truly the genius the Premier League has been missing. But we've known that for a while, haven't we? He first came to prominence as the little known manager who managed to change the landscape of the Champions League in 2009. Before him, it was practically an all-English affair. After all, in the decade before the birth of tiki-taka, English clubs had won the continental trophy twice. Poor old La Liga, their clubs had only won it four times. Err, wait a second.
Ok, never mind that. We all know what happened next right? He came, he saw, and he conquered Germany. Three consecutive championships, plus a host of other domestic trophies? That's incredible! The only other teams with similar records were Juventus in Italy and Paris Saint Germain in France, and they were such obvious winners. I mean, who else could compete with them in their leagues? None of the other clubs had the money or the players. Not like Bayern Munich who obviously support their league's competitiveness. Didn't you hear? They once loaned money to Borussia Dortmund when they were on the verge of bankruptcy!
And, now, he's brought his talents to English shores. Just like before, the Catalan has chosen the hard path, by deciding to take on a club that barely made it into the top four last season. Everyone knows about the traditional troubles at Manchester City, and its so brave of Guardiola to take up this challenge. Not like Jose Mourinho who only takes on the richest and easiest jobs in the sport. Fraud.
What the ex-Barca man has done in pre-season has been unbelievable. Not only did Manchester City manage to beat Dortmund (imagine that, an English side beating a German side on penalties!), but he did so only days after the Germans had battered Manchester United 4-1! Clearly, results in England's footballing capital are going to be skewed towards the Citizens. After all, Mourinho's side couldn't even beat Everton in Wayne Rooney's testimonial. Who draws a testimonial for a striker?! Even Paul Scholes managed to score at his match a couple of years ago, and he was almost 83 at the time.
However, the most impressive aspect about Guardiola's career has to be his progressive attitude towards tactics. Whether its converting a world-class midfielder to an above average defender, or moving fullbacks into the centre of the park to accommodate centrebacks out wide, Guardiola is always ahead of the curve. Why buy midfielders and defenders, when you can just stuff other players in those positions? Leaves more money to throw at strikers who will definitely perform and not come to hate you later. Zlatan who?
He is already pulling the wool working his tactical magic at Manchester City. By hinting at moving Fernandinho back into defence, he can blow his entire budget on yet another small, diminutive winger with unproven ability in the final third. While us mortals think that buying Nolito, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus to complement a side that already has Sterling, Navas, Silva, Nasri and Iheanacho may seem like overkill, we don't have the mind of a man that decided Phillip Lahm's best position was in midfield.
For, you see, Guardiola is reaching into the future. He's actually reaching so far into the future, that he's managed to find himself in the past. Guardiola's master plan is simple, he's going to play all of the above players in the same side in a revolutionary 2-3-5 formation. No one is going to know how to play against them! After all, if it could work for Uruguay in 1930, why shouldn't it work for Manchester City today?