Saturday, 19 October 2019 13:49

Pep Guardiola's fourth-season syndrome: Are Man City set to suffer same fate as Barcelona?

Written by Boma Bravura Al
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The Catalan coach suffered his most disappointing campaign at the Camp Nou in his final year - the only season he failed to land the league title

“The day I see the light go out in my players’ eyes, I’ll know it’s time to go.”

That’s what Pep Guardiola said when he decided to call time on his incredible reign at Barcelona in 2012, according to Marti Perarnau’s book 'Pep Confidential'.

After a disappointing fourth year at the Camp Nou - disappointing in that he only won a Copa del Rey, finished second in La Liga and reached a Champions League semi-final - Guardiola decided he had run out of energy and ideas.

 

Watching him looking pensive in training ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace and receiving an encouraging hug from assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell, you could be forgiven for thinking that something similar was happening again.

Eight points behind leaders Liverpool and with two defeats in eight Premier League games - to Norwich and Wolves, teams that have spent the early parts of the season in the bottom half of the table - City are not the same awesome, wrecking machine that has amassed the two greatest points totals in English football history.

His side came back from seven points behind last season but Guardiola admits that doesn’t mean it is going to happen again.

“I don’t believe in these kind of things - it happened last season, [therefore] it's going to happen this season,” he said ahead of the trip to Palace

Watching him looking pensive in training ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace and receiving an encouraging hug from assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell, you could be forgiven for thinking that something similar was happening again.

Eight points behind leaders Liverpool and with two defeats in eight Premier League games - to Norwich and Wolves, teams that have spent the early parts of the season in the bottom half of the table - City are not the same awesome, wrecking machine that has amassed the two greatest points totals in English football history.

His side came back from seven points behind last season but Guardiola admits that doesn’t mean it is going to happen again.

“I don’t believe in these kind of things - it happened last season, [therefore] it's going to happen this season,” he said ahead of the trip to Palace.

 

“What I believe is playing better and better and better. The reason why we didn't play quite good against Wolves in some moments, that is only my worry.

“This week I looked at what we have done, what is my feeling about the team, what is my feeling about the way we’ve played against this system and the other ones, what we have to do. I'm only concerned about that.

“I don’t anticipate my future - I'm going to lose this game or win. You don't live if you think about that. Sport is present, stay in the present and prepare.” 

Ahead of this season, Guardiola was concerned about keeping things fresh in his fourth campaign with City.

His side were pushed hard in the last two intense campaigns - particularly the last one featuring an extraordinary battle with Liverpool when neither faltered in the run-in and City triumphed by a point.

At Barcelona, he went into a fourth season on the back of three titles and two Champions Leagues but the Catalans' points total would drop from 99 and 96 to 91 as he missed out on a league win for the only time during his four years in charge.

But the biggest difference between his final season in Spain and this one in Manchester was the chaotic backdrop. Guardiola was facing an acrimonious rivalry with Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho that became so toxic it poisoned El Clasico encounters.

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