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Great read by Martin Samuel

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Great read by Martin Samuel

Post by blueboy on Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:22 am

A highly regarded Premier League manager was showing a group of journalists around his training facility this summer. 

The subject of a very famous rival came up. 'You,' he said, pointing a finger at one of the writers, 'could win the league at Barcelona.' 'And you,' he said, with another jab, 'could win the league at Bayern Munich.'

He probably thinks any of us could win the league at Manchester City, too. Certainly with the money Pep Guardiola has spent. That is the popular wisdom. That Guardiola has bought the league. That with the resources Sheik Mansour throws at his project, any coach, any hack even, would be eight points clear right now.

It isn't true, though. City have money, but the success of Guardiola's vision isn't just about spending it. How he spends, where he spends, who he spends it on, that is what has set City apart so far this season.
Nobody said Guardiola was buying the league when he paid around £50million for Tottenham full back Kyle Walker. They said, quite frankly, that he was crackers.
All of the elite clubs have money these days, anyway. Guardiola has more of it, but not so much more.

Net, the difference between his spending at Manchester City and that of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United is around £44m — or Bernardo Silva. And Manchester City are not eight points clear because of Bernardo Silva. Most weeks, he can't get in the team.
Guardiola's outlay is slightly more than £380m but that, too, does not explain why City have been so good this season.

Give any other manager £380m and a squad like Guardiola's would not have been assembled; give any manager Mansour money and at least one big ticket item would have been recruited.
The Qatari wealth behind Paris Saint-Germain has bought Neymar and Kylian Mbappe; Manchester United have spent £75m on Romelu Lukaku and £90m on Paul Pogba. Guardiola's most expensive signing is Benjamin Mendy, who will miss most of the season injured and was roughly half of what Pogba cost.

Those who consider Guardiola to have bought the league do not mention the singular nature of his recruitment; how different he is to the rest. He hasn't bought the league in the conventional way: world stars, big names, big strikers. He has a way of playing and pays top dollar for those who fit his strategy; but that is not the same.

Walker is the perfect example of a Guardiola signing. When he was finally secured from Tottenham, the wisdom was that Daniel Levy had got the best of that deal.
Tottenham's chairman was thought to have done it again. He had prised a ludicrously inflated fee from a club whose owner was corrupting the market with his foolish largesse.
Tottenham then went out and bought Serge Aurier from PSG meaning, with the excellent Kieran Trippier, they were perceived to have the best of the deal. Walker wouldn't even have been the best right back at Tottenham this season, it was argued. Guardiola was a mug. This wasn't a move that would deliver the title.

Yet Walker, and all the full backs that Guardiola recruited this summer as his detractors smirked, is integral to delivering the way Manchester City play. 
He gives them width, meaning forward wide players like Raheem Sterling can come inside and get into scoring positions. So now, with hindsight, buying Walker is viewed as buying the title; back then, it made Guardiola Levy's stooge.

Nobody saw it as the title in the bag when John Stones arrived for £47.5m, either. Raw, overindulged, overpriced, couldn't defend. It is Guardiola who has persevered with him, who has refined his game, made him a centre half of international quality.

Buying players that mature into potential title winners is also not buying the league. It's called coaching, or development, and Guardiola has done it with Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane, too.
When City bought Jesus he was a teenager yet to play a game for Brazil's senior team, and had completed one full season with Palmeiras, winning the league's best newcomer award.
That he has made a fabulous impact in the Premier League is not because Guardiola took a proven performer.

Jesus cost roughly a third of what Manchester United paid for Lukaku, and if Arsene Wenger alighted on a player of his immense talent and potential he would be hailed as a genius, and a spotter of great talent. Jesus did not cost a fortune and neither, by modern standards, did Sane.
Again, he was considered a gamble — a member of Germany's 2016 European Championship squad, but only worthy of a single substitute appearance in the tournament, on for the last 11 minutes against France in the semi-final.

Not that Sane was from nowhere — he played 50 games for Schalke and his fee was £37m — but he fell into the category of a hot prospect, not a sure-fire winner. There are very few instances of Guardiola investing in a finished article.

His buys are not guaranteed — but, increasingly, his guidance is making them so. Equally, while Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero were bought for a combined price of around £162m, inheriting players and getting as much, if not more, than any other manager from them is not buying the league, either.

While there is no doubt Guardiola walked into a good situation with some of his squad, in key areas City were ageing, and several major signings were considered to have disappointed, or peaked.

De Bruyne was good — but he didn't look like one of the top five midfield players in Europe. Silva and Aguero have been wonderful, but both were thought to have seen their best days at City; Sterling had lost his way, after a promising start.

It may look now as if Guardiola fell into great fortune, but the same players did not appear world-beaters in Manuel Pellegrini's final campaign. City were said to be in need of an overhaul, and some of the players now eight points clear were thought to be on their way out.
Instead, it is hard to think of one who has not improved under Guardiola's tutelage. Even without the positive return at the top of the league table, Guardiola would have done a good job.
What he certainly has not done is bought the league. He has bought talent, he has bought youth, he has bought intelligently, he has bought to fit a plan — and, no, he hasn't bought cheap. But who does these days? Not Guardiola's opponents on Sunday, or any of the teams City will hope to face in the later stages of the Champions League.

To build a team as Guardiola has done is far from easy, though, no matter the budget. Indeed, one might ask his contemporaries, if it really is that simple, why they don't do it too?

==========================
"How you gonna live your dash?"
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blueboy
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Re: Great read by Martin Samuel

Post by Topdawg on Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:47 am

very good read
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Re: Great read by Martin Samuel

Post by skyblueoz on Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:42 am

& there lies the obvious truth that most choose to ignore.
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skyblueoz

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Re: Great read by Martin Samuel

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