Dubai: Manchester City’s 30-game unbeaten run may have been brought to an end by Liverpool last week but the Sky Blues are still 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with 15 games remaining. Here we take a look at the reasons why the Abu Dhabi-owned club have been so dominant this season, other than just their superior spending power.
It’s a carbon copy of Barcelona
If you needed a blue print for success, Barcelona’s would be an obvious example to follow – that’s provided you can afford to bring in the same class of player. Not only did City hire Pep Guardiola, the coach who achieved all that success with Barca between 2008 and 2012, but long before that they also poached Barca executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain. Everything from the backroom set-up to the academy, ideology and tika taka style of play, has been lifted, and it was only a matter of time before it all clicked.
Tactics and philosophy have bedded in
At first, Guardiola’s high pressing game, where the keeper acts as the first line of attack, was never going to work if City didn’t have the right quality and style of player. They went through Joe Hart and Claudio Bravo in goal before settling on Ederson Moraes, and propped up the defence with Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy. There were some horror shows in the trial and error phase last season and it’s still not perfect as the defeat against Liverpool displayed, but now that everyone understands the system and is getting used to the style of play, mistakes are reducing.
Pep has made the squad his own
Within three transfer windows, the current one being his fourth, Guardiola has phased out players who can’t adapt to his style and mentality and brought in ones who can. It’s got his own feel about it now and obviously City’s superior spending power has helped him do that, but you also can’t ignore the effect he’s also had on Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne, who were there before he joined, and who have been completely transformed under his leadership. The average age of the squad has also been dramatically reduced and all the players are young, eager and impressionable.
Players want to play for Guardiola
Bar the initial awkwardness surrounding Joe Hart’s exit, Pep has generally carried himself quite well and hasn’t been prone to any public outbursts or open bust ups, unlike his contemporaries. Obviously when you’re winning everything is sweet and we’ve yet to see if Pep can turn sour, but past experience tells us he usually acts with class and calm. If he does have to go postal, it’s usually done with discretion and decorum on his part, and this wins the respect of his players, who trust him, not only for what he’s achieved but also for his humanity.
No one else has got it together
In the void since Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United in 2013, English football’s hierarchy has shifted, and no one has set-up with a long-term sustainable vision to succeed in quite the same way as City. Not only is this evident this season, with United, Liverpool and Chelsea all looking unable to put a run together to threaten City, but it will also be so in the future, with the blue half of Manchester looking more than capable of dominating for the next decade. Everyone had the same opportunity to plan ahead, but since their 2008 takeover, City’s Abu Dhabi owners have pulled United’s Fergie succession plan from right under their feet.
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