Pep this and Pep that. When a man spends millions, he is expected to produce millions in return.
When you have a man whose everyday responsibility is being hampered by a bloke who flogs jumbo-sized mugs on a website designed in the 1980s, and he produces a respectable showing – he’s worth his weight in gold.
Guardiola’s gone and bought some of the best players in Europe and while his achievements are impressive, the atmosphere at Manchester City was positive when he went in there.
Yes, he’s implemented a style of play that everyone is envious of, but he’s doing it off the back of a trail of Dubai dollars – and so it’s hard to judge any football club on their merits when they’ve an endless stream of money shipped into their kitty because some Middle Eastern investor needs a hedge fund.
Step forward, Rafael Benitez. What Benitez did with Newcastle is nothing short of incredible.
Yes, he spent a nice chunk of change in the Championship last year, but that dent can be written off by Premier League prize money.
He went into a Premier League off-season needing to redo the majority of a weak squad and only had funds to sign six players – the most expensive of those being £12,000,000 for Jacob Murphy.
He lost Florian Thauvin to Marseille, who has gone on to light up Ligue 1 this season. He lost promising youngster Lewis Gibson to Everton and Siem de Jong went back to Ajax.
The Magpies lost a surplus of seven players.
They haven’t had a goalscorer to lean on. Newcastle haven’t gone a Premier League season without a player scoring at least six times, yet Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez lead the Magpies in that category with just five.
They’re dead last in terms of average possession – 41.7%, they’re the only side that take more than half of their shots from outside the box, and yet they’re comfortably top half and just two points off eighth.
When you consider as well that Newcastle are a rare case of a club being promoted and not having that sense of optimism due to the fact they’ve seen this all before, he’s up against it.
When you’ve Mike Ashley shouting in your ear that your football isn’t conducive to pushing ceramics, it can be a tough gig. The weight of expectation associated with the football club is massive despite the way they’ve been run in recent years. They’re a top-half club and they’ve returned there now.
For this reason, Benitez must be nominated for Manager of the Year.
To take a club in turmoil, who are hampered by their lack of ability in every metric and deliver them to the top half is an incredible feat.
A hat-tip also to Sean Dyche. What a one-two punch that would be at a wedding.
Your uncle who probably drank too much and the bloke your dodgy aunt married in a shotgun wedding in Madrid, when she was in her mid-forties. Oh, what a night!