There are certain unique qualities that set the more accomplished football managers apart from the less successful ones and those mired in mediocrity.Talk of the ability to read matches, talk of the knack of motivating players, talk of the eyes to spot a budding talent, mention the ability to conceive resulted-oriented tactical formation, include into this growing list the mastery of the act of man-management. The list is ever-growing.
Though it is very rare for one coach to have all the afore-listed qualities, some coaches have perfected their areas of specialization to such a degree that their successes put them in constant demand whenever a managerial seat falls vacant.
To put this write-up in context, I invite the prospective readers to come on a journey with me. Let us have a look at the Barclays Premier League table – the enlarge one that is replete with a wealth of statistics. My fellow travelers are already dazzled by a sight on the table,where Manchester City sits comfortably on the top, having eight points more than second-placed Manchester United.
The reason Manchester City have been enjoying a good form in the season so far is majorly due to the innovative ideas of their manager Pep Guardiola, who has now finally stamp his football ideas on his team after the maiden season in which he failed to win any trophy.
To get an in-depth understanding of why Manchester City have unstoppable this season, an insight into the football philosophy of their manager and the way he drills his current crop of players is of necessity.
Guardiola in his relatively short but trophy-laden career has been identified with two tactical attributes – his signature passing game and his predilection for constantly tweaking his match formation.For Guardiola’s tactical formations to be very successful, players with great technical abilities are required. And the reason for his failure to win a single trophy last season was because some of the City’s players he inherited had lost form and couldn’t execute his ideas as originally conceived.
It was no surprise that at the ended of last season, he showed the exit door to the ageing players in the squad and brought in their replacements. With the right players now at his disposal, little wonder City have won all their league matches save the one against Everton; little wonder Manchester City have also beaten all the teams in the UEFA Champions league group matches this season.
The current Manchester City team, though it may well be premature to speak in this way, is a good example of what is termed a balanced team. Their attack, the defense and the mid-field have players that are amongst the best in Europe.
Let my readers journey with me a little further and let us look at three sections of City’s team:
Manchester City’s back-four is one of the most expensive defensive quartets in the league. Before Benjamin Mendy’s injury, he and his counterpart on the right flank have menaced opponents with their marauding attacking play from their positions. Defensively, they have fared exceptionally well ; using their lightning speed to chased down and nullify the threat of the opponents’ attackers. John Stone and Nicholas Mendy have formed a good partnership this season. The two central-halves use their good distribution of the ball, ability to initiate the attack from the rear and their aerial prowess to good effect during football matches.
Ederson Morales, City’s new goalkeeper, is an improvement on Claudio Bravo who has two of the safest hands in between the sticks in world football.
Manchester City are blessed with three of the best mid-fielders in the league. Their holding mid-fielder Fernandinho is a marvel to watch, his ability to do dirty work in the centre of the pitch is what give the license to David Silva and Kevin DeBryune to wreck their havoc inside the opponent’s half of the pitch.
These two mid-fielders – Silva and DeBryune – can create ex nihilo, to use a religious term. Blessed with uncommon skill-sets, predatory positional sense and uncanny eyes for goals – the two can rip any team apart when they are on top of their game. The unpredictability of their movements, their excellent link-up play with their team mates always leave their opponents in utter bemusement when they are attacking.
The Fearsome Attack
Manchester City have the deadliest attack in the league. If any of one my co-travelers is in doubt, take a look at the league table once again. Their attack is led by two prolific scorers – Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. These players are able to attack their opponents from any section of the opponent’s final third; their agility of movements is almost equaled by the celerity of their thinking; the twosome can score goals with either of their feet, and their heads.
Any City’s striker – Aguero or Jesus, is usually flanked by a pair of fleet-footed wingers under the names of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, and the two wingers are only second to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah in terms of effectiveness from the flanks. City destroy most opponents, using these speedy wingers to launch counter-attacking play. And the two of them have also added goal-scoring to their game. The good link-up play between these wingers with the full-backs on their side of the pitch make City very dangerous from the two flanks
City also have a bench that is rich of highly talented players that can change the game whenever the starters are injured, suspended or suffer a loss of form. Players like Ikay Gundogan, Bernando Silva, Claudio Bravo, Yaya Toure etc are the caliber of footballers City have on their bench.
And the way Guardiola set up these players to execute his passing game is one of the reasons they have been so successful this term. Guardiola’s free-flowing passing game serves the dual purposes of enabling his team to make inroads into the opponent’s defense-line and also to prevent them from attacking his side, this is because the passing game effectively denies the opponent access to the ball for a very long time in a match.
For my readers who have followed me in this journey to the Etihad where the master tactician works with a wide array of talented players, it is no longer a mystery to you now why Manchester City are putting almost all of their opponents to the sword this season.
Guardiola is the type of manager the wealthy Arab owners have been searching for since they took over the club. And if Manchester City continue the way they currently playing: their club will in the nearest future become a force to reckon with both in the domestic league and in European competitions.