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The sky blue color of Pep Guardiola and Manchester City will define this era | Manchester City


I.It seemed appropriate Manchester City Ilkay Gundogan took off like a small, technically savvy phoenix-revenge to very gently hit his head into the top corner of the Aston Villa network. Here’s how they do it here. Not with more heat, more blood, more chaos; but with clearer lines, greater clarity, a red mist of extraordinary precision.

Within six minutes after the opening of the champions Pep Guardiola, completed the most beautiful order an emergency return to the history of English football. And there’s something truly fearless about playing football that way, becoming more, not less by yourself, when the pulse beats, time runs, the world closes behind you.

It also fit Gundogan, Guardiola’s first signing in the City, has to score the title goal, his second in the game: and that Rahim Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne must be present, pulling the strings, both of which were present throughout the Guardiola period in England.

At the end of which and with all the high margins is the most final of the victories. This season, City have scored more goals, made more assists and possessed more possession than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues.

Joao Cancello, Rodri and Aymeric Laporte made more assists than anyone else at the English top level (Cancello, universal influence, was also in the top 10 in selections, leads and interceptions and 12th in goal kicks).

It was a kind of total football, domination over every metric, sky-blue color applied to every surface of elite English football. At the end of which it is also a good time to translate the spirit. There is no opinion that Guardiola intends to leave when his contract expires next year, but some things will change now. The key players of this group are reaching their peak. Some will leave in the summer. Arrival of Erling Haaland suggests another kind of reconstruction soon.

Kyle Walker, Ruben Diaz and John Stones celebrate the Premier League trophy – the club’s fourth title in five seasons. Photo: Matt McNulty / Manchester City / Getty Images

And looking back, Guardiola’s first six years at City have their very distinct tone and texture. Slightly reduce the scale to consider the tactics, structure, and model of ownership, until full-scale Internet tribalism became an aspect of the football fandom, and we can say that Manchester City of the Pep era is the only element that most transformed. in the modern history of English football.

Two things seem clear enough. First, it was a dizzying success. Four titles in six years: even with the withdrawal of the Premier League Prize, which says that what has just happened is the only thing that has ever happened, it is one of the great eras in the history of English football.

According to net figures, Guardiola is now equal to Kenny Dalglish and Herbert Chapman, one behind Matt Busby, two behind Bob Paisley and, like everyone else, in the 27-year-old Alex Ferguson – 13.

The factor of his short period and the very intensity of his influence, and Guardiola begins to look like something even more significant. He is now part of a small group – Chapman, Busby, Bill Shankly and Arsene Wenger – whose success has also changed the way football is played, coached and understood in this country.

This tactical influence is the most obvious part of Pep’s superiority. At one time, English football was sharply inclined to the style of possession, superiority of technique, the Catalan-Dutch obsession with the ball, which is best embodied in Guardiola’s own developing team.

Simply put, the season before his arrival City scored 71 goals and gave the ball 20,488 times. In the title season, they scored 99 goals and made 26,132 assists.

The impact that has emerged during this time is easy to take for granted. Inverted wingers, fake 9s, extreme defenders who wander, goalkeepers who love the ball: Pep was the biggest driver in these elements, which became part of the internal language of English football, to such an extent that even English entry-level managers will talk about their “Philosophy” (love of knowledge) and accept the idea of ​​coaching as a course of study, an intellectual discipline.

Scroll back, and it seems comical that back in 2016 there was still a slight hostility to this unproven (two Champions League) outsider. Press conference at King Power Stadium afterwards defeat by Leicester City 4-2 in December 2016, when Guardiola asked “what is tackle?”, he still became a restrained legend; football version of the Sex Pistols in the game Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976, dealing with a gun to awaken the world.

Manchester City players enjoy a bus parade through the city center. Photo: Oli Scarf / AFP / Getty Images

There was a degree of bullying at the time. Rewind forward five and a half years, and it’s amazing to see what impact the constant influence of Guardiola’s style has had. From a national team defined through its 140-year history by direct play and physical qualities, but now reconfigured to fetishize possession and patience; all the way to the rhythms of park football, where locals under 11 will play a nice game of passes, where parents shout about the pressure rather than send it off for a long time, where short passes performatively applaud.

Most of this was already on the train to Guardiola, but his presence increased it. He was also right. This season, “City” made 300 goals less than a year before his arrival, when he finished fourth after “Arsenal” and “Spurs”.

Of course, there are other aspects to this transformation. The city has been state-owned for 14 years now. No one was ready for the changes made by this completely different model, this completely different set of motivations. In many ways it is just an intervention in the real world. English culture, trade, economics, even language have always been a matter of magpies, a matter of export / import, borrowed talent, borrowed influences.

This has sharply accelerated globalization. Qatar has the tallest building in England. Abu Dhabi owns Manchester City. The project is a modern economic miracle in its own way: new spaces, a new platform, a new team, a new style, a new gravity.

But it also deserves to be judged as something more than a set of buildings and a salary. The sports infrastructure is thin. And while many other teams have tried to make their way to success over the same period, City Superpower has been to play elite-level sports with the consistency of an open political project backed by bottomless reserves, extreme executive competence and a willingness to sue.

In many ways, their success can look outward on a daily basis: hire the best talent, spend the most money, remove the standard despair of the enemy ego, the thirst for glory, nepotism, incompetence.

Part of Guardiola’s brilliance, his courage and his occasional self-destructive obsession is that under his arm this project has remained both beautiful and something that still looks like a sport.

City is the exclusive title holder for many reasons. Most obviously because they ended up getting one point more than the brilliant Liverpool team. But it was also their era, in the most far-reaching sense.


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