Manchester City under Pep Guardiola: five things we have learned so far | Jamie Jackson

A manager who will do it his way, the role of Yaya Touré and how the lightweight pre-season schedule may have an impact on the start of the season

1) Pep Guardiola shows who is in charge

When the derby with Manchester United in Beijing on Monday was called off, the Manchester City chief executive, Ferran Soriano, pointed to heavy rain as the reason. “We understand that this bad weather is beyond anyone’s control and that the rain has made it totally unsafe to play on this pitch,” he said.

Yet in Shenzhen during Wednesday’s press conference before City played Borussia Dortmund the following day, Pep Guardiola made it clear the cancellation had nothing to do with the elements or risk of injury.

Instead, the 45-year-old, a football man to his bones, said it would not have been possible to offer the fans the high-quality spectacle they deserved. Guardiola said this, despite Soriano’s stance being the club’s official position, and one echoed by Ed Woodward, his opposite number at United. It suggests City have a manager who is not in the passive mould of his predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, but a No1 who will do it his way.

2) Yaya Touré for centre-half?

The Ivorian was not namechecked by the coach when Guardiola spoke of his liking for fielding a central midfielder in the middle of the back four. According to Guardiola, Fernandinho could play “10 positions” and Fernando could also operate there. However, the manager did add there were many midfielders at the club who could also do the job.

Yaya Touré was thought to be under threat when Guardiola was announced as Pellegrini’s successor but if he is to remain at City the 33-year-old’s future could be to move into the less-advanced position. He has previously done so, with some success, operating at centre-back when Barcelona beat Manchester United to win the Champions League in 2009.

3) Will the planned extra friendly be enough to complete preparations?

For a coach for whom detail is paramount, to reach the end of July having seen his side play only twice is a concern, especially as these are a group Guardiola has never worked with before – Touré apart. Many of his better players have managed only a half or not appeared at all. Forget the negative public relations caused by the derby that was not played, the real damage was Guardiola missing out on an invaluable 90 minutes of preparation.

On several occasions he has mentioned how negotiating the Champions League play-off round is vital. The first leg of this is played on the week of 16-17 August, a few days after the season opener against Sunderland.

Before City travel to Gothenburg to face Arsenal in a pre-season friendly on 7 August there is expected to be an extra warm-up match. This is potentially against St Johnstone but even this would make only four friendlies spread across a month for City. Factor in that David Silva and Sergio Agüero have played only 45 minutes and Joe Hart, Kevin De Bruyne, Bacary Sagna and Eliaquim Mangala have yet to kick a ball in anger, and Guardiola, as he acknowledges, is in a fight to make sure City hit the ground running.

4) Last-chance saloon for Samir Nasri?

Samir Nasri ‘a little overweight’ says Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola

To work under Guardiola is a chance all footballers would surely crawl to the Etihad Stadium for. Not Nasri, apparently, who arrived for pre-season overweight, according to the manager. After an erratic City career during which the Frenchman has admitted to not always having the correct attitude, Guardiola’s appointment was the chance of a fresh start and a rebirth as a footballer who could finally do his talent justice. So what, frankly, was Nasri thinking turning up out of shape enough to be prevented from playing a second of City’s two matches so far?

5) City fail to sell out their game

City – like Unitedplayed Dortmund in a stadium that appeared only a third full. This may, in part, have been because of ticket prices but, given the importance of China as a market, the club has work to do to achieve the kind of penetration it desires.

The slipshod nature of the trip and its planning did not help, either. City – again like United – flew home having played only once in the country. This is patently not good enough and having to scramble to stage an extra fixture next week hardly speaks of careful planning for all contingencies.

As with United’s manager, José Mourinho, Guardiola’s frustrations over the tour were evident and there should be a serious review of the International Champions Cup if participation is to be continued. Privately, City officials questioned some of the logistics and organisation of the ICC. The hope will be that what happened in China does not affect the start to the season.


Jamie Jackson in Shenzhen

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Yaya Touré: I want Manchester City to be bigger than Manchester United
Yaya Touré said he wants to remain at Manchester City until José Mourinho and the rest of the Old Trafford neighbours have been fully eclipsed

Louise Taylor

20, Dec, 2016 @10:30 PM

Article image
Guardiola says Touré will not play for Manchester City until agent apologises
The feud between Manchester City and Yaya Touré’s representative escalated when Pep Guardiola insisted the midfielder will not play for the club until his agent apologises for his comments following the Ivorian’s omission from the Champions League squad

Ed Aarons and Jamie Jackson

20, Sep, 2016 @1:46 PM

Article image
Yaya Touré’s agent should pipe down. Pep Guardiola holds all the aces | Paul Wilson
Touré’s treatment at Manchester City is regarded by Dimitri Seluk as a declaration of hostilities but the agent is missing the point with Guardiola winning matches, hearts and public relations wars

Paul Wilson

21, Sep, 2016 @11:47 AM

Article image
Manchester City 0-0 Manchester United: five talking points from the Etihad | Jamie Jackson
The derby proved a fine night for the Manchester sides in the race for the Champions League, but it is also abundantly clear where both teams need to reinforce before next season

Jamie Jackson at the Etihad Stadium

27, Apr, 2017 @9:38 PM

Article image
Yaya Touré apologises to Manchester City for ‘misunderstandings’
Yaya Touré has apologised to Manchester City ‘for the misunderstandings from the past’ as the midfielder attempts to resurrect his career at the Etihad Stadium

Ed Aarons

04, Nov, 2016 @9:24 AM

Article image
Manchester City have ‘fake lead’ in title race, warns Pep Guardiola
Manchester City restored their six-point lead at the summit with victory against Manchester United, but Liverpool have a game in hand and better goal difference

Jamie Jackson at the Etihad Stadium

06, Mar, 2022 @8:34 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola was always going to win but Yaya Touré may not have lost
As the Manchester City coach made a prolonged point against player’s agent his actions inspired the Ivorian to return to the fold in fighting form

Paul MacInnes at Selhurst Park

20, Nov, 2016 @10:30 PM

Article image
Samir Nasri left out due to weight issues, says Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola said Samir Nasri did not play in Manchester City’s two friendlies in China because he was overweight

Jamie Jackson in Shenzhen

28, Jul, 2016 @3:48 PM

Article image
Pep Guardiola wins tactical battle with José Mourinho in Manchester derby | Michael Cox
A blunder by José Mourinho enabled a fluid City to dominate the first half, with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva being allowed far too much space by Manchester United

Michael Cox

11, Sep, 2016 @1:04 PM

Article image
Would Pep Guardiola win the title with this Manchester United squad? | Paul Wilson
The gap between the two Manchester clubs appears to be growing but that may be more down to City having a clear plan for the future rather than who is in the dugout

Paul Wilson

07, Nov, 2018 @5:01 PM