Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the best managers in world football. Successful spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich have cemented his reputation as a master tactician and an ardent believer in building from the back.
The first casualty of his philosophy was Manchester City’s long-serving goalkeeper and England number 1, Joe Hart. Despite his long service at the club, he was loaned out to Torino, having been barely given the chance to adapt the new methods.
He was immediately replaced by Claudio Bravo, Pep’s all important ball playing goalkeeper. If fans had any grievances over Hart’s treatment, Manchester City won their first ten competitive games and Hart quickly became a distant memory as pundits touted City as League champions.
As with all fairy tale runs, the return to earth comes with a painful thud and City are learning this first hand as they are now on a run of four games without a win. The trouble began at Tottenham where they lost 2-0 to a Pochettino team which pressed ruthlessly.
Then came another 3-3 draw against Celtic which showed that City’s defensive woes for which Pellegrini was often vilified for are far from over.
On Saturday, City were unlucky to draw 1-1 with Everton as they dominated much of the match but failed to create clear-cut chances despite missing two penalties.
On Wednesday night, they lost heavily to Barcelona as Pep tweaked his formation and left Sergio Aguero on the bench, deciding to play Kevin De Bruyne as a false 9.
Football’s harsh reality is that at the end of the day, only results matter. No one cares about the tactical tweaks if they do not work. Pep Guardiola’s stubborn insistence on playing from the goalkeeper cost them dearly when Bravo, who should have cleared the ball decided to control and pass the ball instead.
He made a hash of the pass and attempted to save Suarez’s resulting shot with his hands outside the box and was immediately sent off.
Now four games without a win, Pep Guardiola is in unfamiliar territory and I can’t help but wonder, should Manchester City and their fans be worried?