Manchester City’s European dream got an early wakening as the Citizens were stunned by AS Monaco at Stade Louis II on Wednesday night.
The Premier League club headed to France carrying a two-goal lead following a mesmerizing 5-3 win at the Etihad, but ended up failing miserably in a match which saw them demonstrate a worrying lack of desire, motivation and eagerness to catch up AS Monaco.
Many people were quick to blame Pep Guardiola and his tactical approach for a disappointing Champions League exit, but the Spaniard is the last man to be blamed for an embarrassing night in France.
Citizens do not understand Pep’s attacking philosophy
A scratch under the surface and a look beyond the obvious will reveal a deeper insight in Pep Guardiola’s plans for the night at Stade Louis II.
The Spaniard did the only thing he knew – fielded an attack-oriented XI in his desire to assert the dominant position over the exciting Monaco side, despite the 5-3 lead from the first leg.
If his managerial stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich have taught us anything, then that definitely is the fact Guardiola is not the kind of a man who will go on to defend his lead and drop back to preserve the result. His attack-minded philosophy originated from the Barcelona DNA and was easily implemented in the German never-say-die spirit, but Guardiola has so far found it hard to implement it in his Manchester City squad.
It all started with Joe Hart who refused to change his game in order to evolve into a goalkeeper Guardiola needed to execute his plans, whereas the Spaniard also lacks fluidity in his defensive department as well.
John Stones is showing tremendous desire to adapt, but is failing miserably to become a deep-lying defender Guardiola requires. Aleksandar Kolarov is a refreshing exception however, as the Serbian left-back was easily transitioned into a central-back position he is currently enjoying and thriving in.
City’s talent-packed midfield failed on the big occasion, showing a worrying lack of maturity in the first half, which ended up being decisive for the entire match. Guardiola’s attack-minded players lacked aggressiveness, failed to pick the ball up and pile pressure on Monaco midfield, allowing them to cut inside the final third with ease, ultimately leaving goalkeeper Caballero exposed and unable to keep his net still.
The second half brought a slight improvement in approach, but it turned out to be a moment too late for City to turn the game around.
In the end, Guardiola’s words hold great weight as his tactics were not to be blames for Wednesday night’s failure, but rather players’ lack of desire and willingness (or knowledge) to implement his attack-minded philosophy.
Guardiola needs to change the roster
“I tried to convince them [the players] in all meeting we had to come here, try to attack and score. My mistake was being not able to convince them to do that.”, Guardiola said after the game.
Another one of Guardiola’s mistake is the fact he is trying to push through a model of play certain players are unable to answer. He too needs to change and adopt, but the easiest way is to change the roster.
The Independent suggests that Manchester City boss is preparing a clearout for the summer, with no less than 18 players at risk of being sold or let go down the drain without contract extensions.
In what is likely to be the single biggest change in Sheikh Mansour’s era, Pep Guardiola is expected to be given a transfer kitty worth £150 million to spend on new players.
The Spaniard did commence the rebuilding process last summer as he brought in the likes of Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus, but a couple of his investments such as Nolito are simply not paying dividends.
With seven players out of contract in July – Yaya Toure, Gael Klichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna and the youngster Tosin Adarabioyo – Manchester City also have five players on loan whose futures are up in the balance – Joe Hart, Samir Nasri, Eliaquim Mangala, Wilfried Bony and Jason Denayer.
Out of favour Fabian Delph, Nolito, Fernando and Kelechi Iheanacho are also fearing for their respective futures, whereas the biggest question mark rests upon the careers of Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero.
The Belgium defender and the club captain is suffering from a long-term injury which keeps troubling him, whereas Aguero’s place in the team has come under great scrutiny already with Guardiola believing that the Argentine’s lack of work-rate in the midfield could prove to be crucial.
Gabriel Jesus seems to be Pep’s preferred option and the summer ahead of us could bring some major changes as Etihad as Guardiola is looking toward bringing in players that can understand, share and adopt his own mindset.
Not all will leave, of course, but who do you think out of all 18 players is the most likely to leave in the summer?
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