I’ll be perfectly honest: I’m not an impartial football writer. The reality is that they don’t exist, but some writers pretend…
There are clubs I hate. There are clubs I love. There’s one club that will always have my affection (but I’m not telling you which one it is).
And now I’ll say something else in earnest: I feel sad about how well Pep Guardiola is doing at Man City so far.
Okay, so it’s early days. It could still all go horribly pear-shaped.
But it doesn’t look like it will.
English players like John Stones and Raheem Sterling have been reinvigorated under him, and Pep’s team are playing with that remarkable fluidity that we’ve seen in his Bayern and Barca sides.
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) September 4, 2016
They’re matching their rivals stride for stride, and look certain to be one of the title contenders this season.
And I wish it wasn’t so. Just to be clear, this is not in any way meant to be a diss against Manchester City. Historically, I have actually quite liked the club.
But I just can’t make myself warm to Guardiola. He’s odd, intense, and quite clearly full of himself.
He inherited the best team in the world when he took over from Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, and did exactly the same at Bayern.
And yet people went on about him like he was the best thing since sliced bread, despite the fact that he’d never done it for a side that wasn’t already the best on the planet.
I’ll be frank: I had hoped that he’d come unstuck at City. That maybe, just maybe, he’d get a dose of humble pie, something that’d make him realise that perhaps he isn’t the deity that people treat him as.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 4, 2016
Read Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography and you get a very different picture of Guardiola.
An intense, passive-aggressive and non-confrontational man, who simply didn’t want to deal with Zlatan, despite his talent.
We must, of course, take Zlatan’s words with a pinch of salt, but Pep’s treatment of Joe Hart hints at there being more than a grain of truth to the Swede’s words.
But whatever he’s like as a person, however odd or alienating he is, the events of this season have forced me to admit that he is an exceptionally good manager.
And I hate it.