Craig Bellamy: Like it or not, Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world

The former City striker believes the Spanish boss has finally moulded the side in his image and looks ahead to their huge clash with Chelsea…

I won’t lie, I do like this Manchester City team and that increases every time I watch them play. They’ve just got so much about them and that’s down to the manager.

City create so many chances, they come at opponents from different angles, the pace of their players is frightening, they all understand where they need to be and they just look like a proper Pep Guardiola team now.

Don’t forget, people were quick to criticise Guardiola when he first arrived saying stuff like ‘he’s naïve and he doesn’t understand how it is in England’. That was just their egos about the Premier League, they believe that ‘out in Europe you win everything, but do you really think you can come here and do the same. No one can do that in our league.’

This year I reckon those people and everyone out there will see what kind of a manager he is. For me, Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world.

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That might rub people up the wrong way and people always turn to arguments like ‘at Barcelona anyone can win’, the same about his time with Bayern. But, I feel like I get a coaching lesson every time I watch one of his teams play. Pep’s a man who really thinks about football and he’s ultra-intelligent about the game.

So, from a coaching aspect, I learn more from Guardiola than anyone else. He’s an inspiration to loads of coaches, including myself, because he’ll do things a lot of other managers wouldn’t dream of doing.

The Costa question

I couldn’t tell you if Antonio Conte was right to get rid of Diego Costa. It’s one of those that you’d only know what happened if you were inside of the club, but Costa was brilliant for Chelsea.

He was fantastic in their run to the Premier League title last season and the fans loved him. If it was me, I’d have kept him.

He one of those players who gives his all on the park, but the only two that really know the story is Conte and Costa.

I know he’s a big loss to The Blues, but Alvaro Morata isn’t a bad replacement, is he? Costa couldn’t have done anymore for them, however Morata coming in doesn’t weaken Chelsea at all.

Conte’s outfit are capable of making a statement with a victory Saturday, even if it’s not essential that they have too. They’ll expect to make one though, it’s part of what they are as a football club.

Chelsea are league champions at the end of the day and they won’t be giving up this title without a fight. It’s going to be a tight game and I see a 1-1 draw coming on Saturday.

If City could get a win it would be incredible and it would be a massive statement to the rest of the league. I can see the home side getting something out of it though because of the quality in their squad.

It’s definitely the game of the weekend and will be Man City’s biggest test so far this season.

Are City invincible?

Manchester City do look incredible this season, but they will lose at some stage.

It’s going to happen because it’s the Premier League after all. I’ve only seen an invincible season once in my lifetime and I don’t believe we’ll ever see it again.

That’s down to the strength in depth of all the other teams these days. There’s so much more quality in the league now then there was before, mainly due to the financial power clubs has available to them.

City couldn’t have really had a better start this campaign though and they’re already mightily impressive.

However, Chelsea will be their biggest test of the season without question.

Storming the Bridge

My goals at Stamford Bridge came in the Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti years at Chelsea when they were winning titles. So, they came in what was a really tough period to score against them and it’s just as hard to score against them now with Antonio Conte in charge.

I had quite a few good games at Stamford Bridge.

I liked the ground and it was hostile, but I took to that and it was a good place to play football.

You were playing against some of the best players in the world at the time, but sometimes you needed a bit of luck too.

I remember playing there once for Blackburn in 2005 and I scored twice in the first half from two touches of the ball. Then in the second half I didn’t get a kick!

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