Sunday , June 23 2024

Are cracks appearing at Manchester City?

Pep Guardiola knocks back a large one. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

I’d love to go for a beer with Pep Guardiola. Me and the Man City manager chewing the fat over a few bia hơis, although I’m guessing he’d probably favour a nice rioja instead of Việt Nam’s most popular brew.

I just think he’d be great company, insanely knowledgeable about football, and a really good laugh. Whenever he talks, I’m more than happy to just sit back, shut up and listen.

This week he’s had a lot to say. And for probably the first time since taking over as Manchester City manager, he seems under pressure.

Cracks are starting to appear in his well-oiled blue machine.

Back-to-back draws at home to Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, both matches City were leading, and then defeat in the early hours of Thursday morning away at Aston Villa.

What was interesting, and unusual for a City team, is in that latest defeat, they only had two shots during the whole match, compared to Villa’s 22.

So right now, City sit in fourth place, six points adrift from Arsenal at the top, and just three points away from dropping out of Champions League qualification.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. As much as I want City to fail, anyone who writes them off this early in the season needs their head examined.

City’s next five Premier League games are against Luton Town, Crystal Palace, Brentford, Everton and Sheffield United. During that same period, league leaders Arsenal must visit both Liverpool and Aston Villa, as well as face West Ham at home.

There’s also another key factor as to why I can see City bouncing back in the second half of the season, and that’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Their Belgian talisman hasn’t featured since the opening day of the season, but it’s worth noting he has been named in Manchester City’s FIFA Club World Cup squad, raising hopes of an imminent return to action.

I’m sure he will be gently eased back into the first team, but once he’s up and running, City will be firing on all cylinders for sure.

Pep this week has had a pop at some television pundits who dared to question City’s mindset and current form.

And he did do so with a cheeky smile on his face, aiming digs at former players Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Michah Richards.

So although Pep is in a position he’s probably not experienced before, it’s far too premature to dismiss their chances of winning yet another Premier League title.

And if they are in the top spot at the end of the season, well I guess it’s only fair I buy him a beer or two. VNS

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