Pep Guardiola feeling the pressure

The Manchester City coach may have been hugely successful as a player and coach, but recent history shows he will also walk out when the going gets tough.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a changed man.

From the cool, calm and collected character that was full of smiles during City’s 10-match unbeaten run at the start of the season to the tetchy, angry man who gave curt, almost rude answers and talked of retirement during a series of post-match interviews following 10-man City’s narrow 2-1 win over Burnley on Monday.

But what’s behind the transformation?

It’s possible that Guardiola was just upset following another red card for Fernandinho, his third in six games, and that as coach he was frustrated with his captain for another reckless challenge that saw City earn a seventh red card of the season.

Guardiola was also visibly angry about the challenge by Sam Vokes on keeper Claudio Bravo that lead to Burnley’s goal, and even suggested the rules are different in England.

It’s also true to say that things have not gone according to plan for Guardiola, who arrived in Manchester to huge fanfare with many expecting City to steamroller their way to the title much in the same way Barcelona and Bayern had done under the Spaniard.

The failure to replicate his instant impact at previous clubs and the poor form of big money defensive signing John Stones and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo have seen City struggle.

And while they are only seven points off the top of the table, one would have to say that at this moment City do not look anywhere near the level of leaders Chelsea. The realisation of that, and his apparent annoyance at key players underperforming, must also irk Guardiola.

A perfectionist as a player, Guardiola expects the same as a coach, and when people do not deliver he gets frustrated.

He may also be beginning to feel the pressure that comes with the hot seat at the Etihad, as the club’s wealthy owners expect him to deliver trophies in return for their huge outlay on players, with the Champions League a priority.

Let’s not forget, Guardiola has form for walking out when things are not going his way. He left Barcelona for a well-publicised ‘sabbatical’ amid rumours of unrest, despite being supremely successful during his four-year reign, saying he ‘was worn out’.

Glass half empty?

He also quit Bayern Munich last summer for City when his contract ran out. A surprising decision given that he failed achieve the sole objective of his appointment in Germany – delivering the Champions League.

This indicates that Guardiola is no Alex Ferguson, or Arsene Wenger. He is not in it for the long term, nor is he one to suffer fools gladly. Guardiola will obviously not stick around or get involved in a war of attrition when things do not go his way.

Taking this into account, the post-Burnley talk about his future in coaching makes sense, and while it’s highly unlikely he is thinking of leaving the Etihad anytime soon – he has only been there for five months – it suggests that if things ultimately do not go his way in Manchester then he will have absolutely no regrets in walking away.

After all, he has already been there, done that, and has the all trophies to prove it.

Richard Hazeldine

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