Man City are finally going ‘Full Guardiola’, and it’s magnificent to watch

Whether or not Pep's charges can keep it up for a full season remains to be seen...


Josep Guardiola is a man who demands that things be done his way.

As a football manager, he is obsessed to the point of outright megalomania with micromanaging his personal sporting fiefdom.

Occasionally, he lapses into rage if his meticulous preparation is thrown out of kilter by the incompetence of less-gifted minds and bodies.

It must be a terribly frustrating existence, albeit one that sometimes results in the creation of something memorable. Like 2011 Barca – or the current Manchester City team.

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Because Pep, for all his tics, shrugs and condescension, is one of the very few coaches capable of engineering a team that can play the way Xavi, Iniesta and Messi did at the turn of the decade.

And despite what his critics will say, that Blaugranes iteration was no once-off, no flash in the pan: Guardiola is a man for whom the phrase ‘method in his madness’ could have been invented.

Whether or not Pep is mad is up for debate, but his method is certainly there for all to see. He wants every aspect of developing a football team carried out to his exact specifications – and considers it unacceptable if they are not – because he believes in the systems he creates.

A bit like Carrie Bradshaw, Pep knows what he wants – and isn’t afraid to petulantly stamp his feet until he gets it.

It looks as if it’s all beginning to pay off at City, whose recent performances have been transcendent, eerily reminiscent of those incomprehensibly brilliant Barca displays.

There’s no real value in comparing the two sides – they operate and operated in totally different environments – but, equally, there’s no point denying that it’s hard to avoid getting excited about the possibility of a Barca 2.0 led by the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

So far in 2017/18, City’s players look as if they’ve completely bought into Guardiolism.

Last year, they clearly hadn’t – or simply weren’t good enough to execute the vision.

De Bruyne, in particular, has looked every inch the perfect Guardiola specimen, an identikit technical whizz designed specially to thrive in the rarefied atmosphere that is the Pep ecosystem.

But the previous campaign’s problems at the back look to have been resolved as well. Despite the ludicrous transfer fee, Kyle Walker has been a significant upgrade at right-back and Ederson Moraes, up to this point at least, is proving to be the keeper that Pep should have bought last season.

Through the Brazilian – and the ever more impressive John Stones – City’s central defence now provide a ball-playing foundation on which the rest of the team can build.

Even Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling are playing well.

Everything is coming together. Perhaps they won’t sustain it at this level the way Barcelona did in the past.

Or perhaps the less appealing grindery of City’s cross-town rivals will ultimately prove more conducive to winning England’s top tier.

But either way, the Citizens are going ‘Full Guardiola’, and the Premier League is a far more entertaining place as a result.

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