Record-breaking seasons, an exhilarating style of play, possessor of the most famous cardigan in world football… not too long ago Pep Guardiola could do no wrong in the eyes of Man City supporters. Now, however, it appears that fans’ faith in their dugout deity is beginning to falter.
The Citizens have lost their imperiality in dramatic style – they currently find themselves 19 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool – and there are whispers that Guardiola could end his stay in Manchester this summer. Whispers that will only get louder after his outburst last week.
At their victorious FA Cup tie against Fulham last week, City registered a home crowd of just 39,223, significantly short of their 55,000 capacity. After the game, the boss questioned why so many supporters didn’t bother turning up.
Understandably this did not go down well with the general secretary of the club’s official fans group, who stated: “We feel unjustifiably criticised by other clubs, so for our manager to have a go at us as well makes it worse. I’d suggest he’s not in touch with the financial reality facing football fans. Pep has to accept that this is a working class group of supporters who spend a lot of their money on football, so stop beating us up about it.”
Guardiola responded by promising it was never his intention to “offend” fans, but irrespective of the circumstances, slagging off your own supporters is never a good look. So if he is set on waving goodbye to the half-empty Etihad for good, what else could Pep do to burn his bridges with the club? We’ve got some helpful suggestions…
1. Criticise a cult hero
Once you’ve soured your relationship with the fans, the next logical step is to take aim at a player they hold dear to their blue hearts. Former striker Shaun Goater would be the perfect candidate for Guardiola to put in his crosshairs.
During a five-year spell at the original incarnation of the club – you know, the one which relentlessly yo-yo’d between the lower divisions – the Bermudan’s 103 goals earned him cult status among supporters. “Feed the Goat and he will score!” they sung, which was completely true even if 99% of those strikes came off his arse or shins.
But given the fact that most of these goals came outside the top flight, Pep could legitimately claim Goater was simply a flukey charlatan who doesn’t deserve to be associated with the club these days. That would rile supporters so quickly he’d have flares being lobbed into his front garden before he’s even finished giving his opinion.
2. Revealing that he actually hates Oasis
Noel and Liam Gallagher are undoubtedly City’s most famous fans. So much so that the elder brother was entrusted by the club to conduct Guardiola’s first interview after signing on the dotted line back in 2016. They got on like an incredibly expensive house on fire, and Pep has since stated several times that Oasis are one of his favourite bands.
But imagine if this was all a giant ruse by the Spaniard? Imagine if he hijacked a Match of the Day interview to rant that he actually thinks Oasis are dreadful and that he’s much more of a Blur kinda guy?
Given that being an Oasis aficionado is a compulsory requirement for any Man City fan, it’s easy to picture how that would go down; Guardiola would be hounded out of the club quicker than you can say “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”
3. Cancelling Vincent Kompany’s statue
Back in September 2019 it was announced that former City captain Vincent Kompany would be honoured by the club with the creation of a statue outside the Etihad Stadium – presumably because its ever-presence would help boost attendance figures.
Supporters rejoiced as the news was broken alongside the unveiling of Vincent Kompany Crescent, a bizarrely renamed road at the club’s training complex. It marked the first occasion that such an honour has been bestowed upon a player since the club was founded in 2008.
Whilst we’d all like to see Kompany cast in bronze, purely so we can see if they manage to cock it up as much as the infamous Cristiano Ronaldo bust (which better resembled a melting waxwork of Niall Quinn), Guardiola can guarantee the wrath of his former fanbase by kiboshing the entire project.
4. Admits he believes parkas look sh*t
Known for his casual attire on the touchline – the man owns more Stone Island clobber than the entire cast of The Football Factory combined – it’s clear Pep knows a thing or two about terrace fashion.
Which brings us on to the humble parka, the staple of any Mancunian’s closet (some say they are even born wearing them). Imagine if the Premier League’s most sarcastic gaffer suddenly unleashed his inner Anna Wintour, slating parkas and declaring that anyone who wears them looks like a complete and utter berk.
No self-respecting City fan could ever forgive him, could they?