Pep Guardiola: What's Going on, Buddy?

Robbie Copeland
What has happened to Pep Guardiola?
What has happened to Pep Guardiola? / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
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You want your manager to be a bad loser. Dignity in defeat is important, but there would be something wrong if every comprehensive drubbing was taken graciously on the chin.

As a fan, you want to see passion, anger and a burning desire to put things right that will resonate down through the squad. That's the function of a leader.

But there are bad losers, and there's Pep Guardiola.

"I think today, the problem was that we put extra pressure on ourselves to score the second or third one when they just didn’t want to play, they just wanted to defend and play on the counter attack."

That was Pep's assessment of a Leicester team who thumped five goals past Manchester City at the Etihad.

Time and again he took aim at the Foxes' 'defensive' setup. It was astonishing. He took a pop at their 'two banks of five', accused them of spending 80 minutes camped inside their own half, claimed that they didn't cover much ground and created hardly any chances.

They scored five goals. But Guardiola didn't bother to give them an ounce of credit.

If you can justify his arrogant, dismissive tone with the fact that he was obviously hurting, how do you explain that much of what he said was plain wrong? Leicester didn't play? Did he not see the countless occasions where Youri Tielemans and Nampalys Mendy combined to cut his midfield open like butter?

"It's so difficult when Jamie Vardy is playing 15 yards away from the 18-yard box," was another line that actually came out of his mouth. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume he isn't talking about the same Jamie Vardy who scored a hat-trick and spent an hour running at his defence like a man possessed.

Oh, but two of his goals were penalties. Yeah? How else does a team get penalties except by attacking?

Guardiola was once the anti-Mourinho, but as the years go on, it's becoming clear he has more and more in common his former adversary. Where Mourinho's conceited deflection tactics would manifest themselves in haughty references to his previous accomplishments, Guardiola's go-to is blaming the opposition for setting up to beat them.

Rarely in Guardiola's managerial career has he had to compete against a club with far superior resources, and it is showing. He clearly has no empathy for teams forced make the best of what they have, and his contempt when one of those managers has the audacity to outfox him borders on the offensive. It's entitled snobbery.

The worst thing about this, from a City perspective, is that Guardiola's increasingly fragile mentality is now bleeding into the on-field performances. And it has been for a while. Sunday's thumping defeat to Leicester was a sign that last season's dip was no one-off - the same issues are prevalent.

There's a nervousness to the squad that Guardiola is at a loss to explain. As long as Pep is in charge, City will continue to be untouchable when they build up a head of steam, but you get the feeling they have to be two or three goals ahead, otherwise the pressure gets to them.

Leicester sensed that on Sunday, and while Guardiola ridiculously claimed that the visitors were 'lucky', there was only going to be one winner from the minute Vardy - who hardly left his own half, remember - impudently back-heeled past Ederson to put Leicester in front.

It shouldn't need said, but after spending 500 words tearing strips off them, it seems only fair to point out that City should not be written off this season. Even some way short of their best, they are capable of hitting 90 points, and depending on how Liverpool get on, that might be enough to wrestle the Premier League title back.

In order to return to that level, however, Guardiola has to start addressing the mentality problems within his own squad before he points the finger at the opposition.

Leicester's low block isn't the problem here, Pep, nor is any other enemy you've fictionalised to justify another momentary failure. The blame falls with you, and it's time to start owning that.


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