The 15th of January 2017 turned out to be one day Pep Guardiola will never forget (or at least, not forget in a hurry). The Spaniard would usually be in charge of the team scoring all the goals on the matchday, hugging a larger chunk of the ball possession and not conceding much (none at all, on the best of days), but last Sunday was a different day at the office.
In a “strange game,” Everton went on rampage, smashed four unreplied goals past Manchester City, and put on a dominant display. Pep’s men were blow away and looked out of sorts for the most part of the game. It was a crazy day for Pep but, looking into the crystal ball, could things get even crazier over time?
Let’s start (that’s you and I), with what went wrong on the day and try to see whether things will get better or worse for the Citizens and their manager.
Pep Guardiola lined up a formation that had all the right players in the right spots, save one: Pablo Zabaleta. In a weird, not-un-Pep-like move, the Philosopher chose to play the Argentine in City’s midfield, alongside Yaya Toure. It was a move that would end up imploding in Pep’s face. Funny enough, Guardiola let this implosion last a long while, before calling time on it and making a substitution. I could go on and on but you probably already know how things ended.
Both oldies (Yaya and Zabaleta) were well handled by Barry and eventual man of the match, 18-year old Tom Davies, whose youthfulness proved to be a huge difference for Everton in the midfield. Zabaleta’s inclusion in the squad made Man. City look like they were playing with a man short. It was the classic case of the square peg and the round hole; he just didn’t fit in, spending the whole time playing like an Everton player in a Manchester City jersey. Can’t blame him can we? Okay, maybe we can (a little), but, how about the man who chose to play a full-back in the middle of the park?
If it was one of those “Philosophic Experiments” or a move forced by the absence of the usual suspects (the Brazilians), it’s hard to tell. But the obvious was: Pep opted for a full-back in midfield while overlooking a certain midfielder, Fabian Delph, who was on the bench on the day. Delph ain’t no magician and as such, his inclusion wouldn’t have stopped City from getting beat. But then again, Zabaleta’s presence apparently made things worse for Manchester City.
No one will ever know what was going through Guardiola’s mind while he was selecting which soldier to start his battle against Everton with. No one will probably care now (maybe not those soccer aficionados though, those ones who like to talk football for hours on end). City lost 4-0 at the Goodison Park. It was Pep’s heaviest league defeat ever. But, it’s all news now, water under the bridge.
What’s news now is what the future holds for the Manchester City gaffer. Of course, he’s not at risk of losing his job. It also doesn’t seem like he’ll be leaving anytime soon as the Pep legacy has not been implemented yet. What’s news now is, how will Pep and his boys cope with their most immediate fixtures which features names like Tottenham Hotspurs and their Manchester cousins, amongst others?
Doubtless, the Everton game was just another league game. Thank goodness, it wasn’t a cup game. The relay race is still on! But,
– Have Manchester City just taken a huge blow psychologically?
– Tottenham is up next. Some key names are still missing from the squad. Will it be another blow out, this time in front of their home fans?
– With a depleted team, is this the perfect time to try something new, seeing as his current players can’t play what he wants?
– Has the pain in the neck (Claudio Bravo) overstayed his welcome (a starting place) seeing as there’s a ”good-enough” replacement in Willy Caballero?
Oh how it’d have been lovely to have those answers quickly. But we can’t. Only time can tell, which is dangerous too as time is running out just as City falls even further from a top four spot.
I agree, it’s been a crazy Premier League season. But things are just about to get crazier for one club, Manchester City.
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter <a href=”http://twitter.com/rotdav”>@rotdav</a>