City Crisis: Guardiola Seeks Solutions
|Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola walks off after the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park on December 6, 2023 in Birmingham, England(Image-Getty)
4-4 with Chelsea, 1-1 with Liverpool, 3-3 with Tottenham. A 1-0 loss to Aston Villa in the fourth match after sharing points in three consecutive matches.
These are the results from treble-winners Manchester City's last four league matches, which have pushed Pep Guardiola's side no further than six points clear of leaders Arsenal; The ability to retain the league title has been thrown into question. Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown called City's 'shaky' situation a 'mini crisis'. Pep Guardiola has no choice but to admit it.
But why is the club that was at the top of the league points list a month ago suddenly so disorganized? Almost all clubs face ups and downs in the 38-match league. City have gone one-two-three multiple times en route to winning the league in the last three seasons. But this time's 'rise and fall' gives a different indication. City were without a win in four consecutive games in the league before this, the last time was in April 2017. Another 'record' is uncomfortable with the bitter aftertaste of six years. This is the first time since the 2009-10 season that City have conceded 17 goals in their opening 15 matches.
Not only City as a team, but also Guardiola has met the deepest 'abyss' of his coaching career. For the first time in Europe's top five leagues, his side managed just two shots on goal in an entire match (against Aston Villa). Against Villa, City looked shaky defensively as well. Guardiola's combined career tally of 22 shots in this match saw former City defender Gael Clichy bluntly say, 'One of the worst City matches we've seen.' They were lucky not to concede 2, 3 or 4 goals.
The visible reason behind City's plight is the absence of the two. Rodry missed Wednesday night's match against Aston Villa due to a card ban. The defensive midfielder, who was voted the best player in the Champions League last year, has missed four games this season, all four of which City have lost. Kevin De Bruyne, who was the Premier League's playmaker of the season last year, is no more. The injured attacking midfielder is yet to return to the field.
Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundowan, who was instrumental in last season's treble win, has left City for Barcelona. And Yosko Guardiol, who came from Red Bull Leipzig, has yet to fully adapt to the Etihad club. John Stones was also absent due to injury.
Guardiola knows that some players will come and go, some will miss matches due to injury or cards, and through all this the trophy fight will have to be progressed. He also knows that he has to do the main work to bring the team back to winning ways. Facing the media, the city coach highlighted his own role, 'It is my duty to find a way to turn around. We know what size City are. As a coach, I have to find a way to win. We are struggling a bit. But that's what I'm here for.'
City, however, have plenty of room to turn around. There are also examples. After 19 matches in the 2018-19 season, City were 10 points behind Liverpool at the top. However, Guardiola's team won the league with 98 points, leaving Jayaroth in the remaining half of the season. If you can then why not this time - to be energized by such a mantra