Sunday 17 December 2017 / 02:00 AM

PEP HAS TAKEN MAN CITY BACKWARDS

The saying goes that sometimes you have to go backwards to come forwards, and that’s exactly what City owners and City fans will be hoping, with City’s FA Cup semi-final season confirming a trophyless season for the Citizens.

It should be remembered that when it was announced that Guardiola would be taking over from his predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, City were top of the table and still in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.

And yet, the message was clear: the Spaniard was being brought in to ‘rebuild’ City.

How much rebuilding has he actually done?

We all know one way in which he’s ‘rebuilt’ – he’s spent a fortune on players.

John Stones, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Ilka Gundogan, Nolito and Claudio Bravo all came in at a cost of nearly £160 million.

Have they improved the side?

Well, a glance at the table suggests perhaps not.

City lie in fourth, just one point ahead of their rivals Manchester United.

If the season ended now, City would finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League qualifying stage.

Not exactly what you’d call success is it? Especially when you consider the backing that the club has and the credentials that Guardiola came in with.

And that’s where my point comes in really.

I’m not a huge fan of ‘I told you so’s, but a glance back through my articles regarding Guardiola’s appointment will tell you something: I didn’t expect him to be a success.

I wasn’t on my own there – plenty of other football writers thought the same.

Why? Because Guardiola has never EVER been truly tested.

He walked into the Barca job when Rijkaard had already made Barcelona the best team in Europe, if not the world.

It was Barca that won the Champions League in 2006, a year before Guardiola’s appointment, having not won it for some 14 years prior.

It was Rijkaard that made the team one of Europe’s most feared.

Guardiola just carried on that work, and I’ll be honest, did a great job.

A similar scenario existed at Bayern.

Guardiola came in as the German giants had just won the treble, and although Pep won the league each season during his three seasons in charge, he failed to win another Champions League, as his predecessor Heynckes had done.

In summary, Guardiola’s two jobs prior to City were both at the best team in the world at that moment in time.

He did well at both, but he cannot be credited with instigated their success.

It is no surprise then, that Guardiola has come into City and failed to make the fourth best team in the league into the best team in the league.

All he has done is maintained the status quo, which is not quite what City were looking for.

They were looking for a manager to really take them onto the next level, domestically and in Europe.

Guardiola has failed. He may still succeed, but regardless of how the rest of the season goes, with no trophy, and no meaningful impact on the title race, his first season must go down as an utter failure, and an expensive one at that.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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