Pep Guardiola was finally announced as Manchester City manager on a 3-year term, skyrocketing the expectations of the Etihad faithful through the roof. With Pep Guardiola considered as one of the best managers in the world, his arrival to the Blue half of Manchester seemed like half the job done for City. The Arab owners strive to make City the best club in the world and this was a huge step taken in the right direction.
But things aren’t as hunky-dory as they have been made out to be. Pep has been blessed with world-class squads in both the clubs he has managed so far. Barcelona and Bayern Munich are considered amongst the top 3 clubs in the word, and while the expectation to improve on a near-perfect situation is understandably tough, the security of having players who can adapt to new tactics and positions is something he has been used to.
Though the squad he has inherited at City is one of the strongest in the Premier League, the players have seemingly stagnated over the past couple of seasons with clear signs of lack of ambition and desire all over the pitch. Pep demands a high-pressing and intense system where his players are switched on for the whole duration of the match. His enthusiasm towards the game reflects on his managerial style and he expects nothing less than 100% from his troops.
Guardiola has a penchant for midfielders and all his line-ups have revolved around a strong technical core at the centre of the park. His midfielders are the heartthrob of his game-plan and he does not compromise with the engine-room of the team. With Yaya believed to be past his prime and the average quality of the rest of the midfielders, it was evident Pep would look to strengthen in that particular region. And expectedly Gundogan was signed early on with Toni Kroos being another name doing the rounds.
The blossoming partnership of Pep and Kroos was nipped in the bud when he moved to Real Madrid from Bayern Munich with the Catalan in charge. It was understood the deal did not go through on the gaffer’s behest and that Pep is still a huge admirer of the midfield maestro.
Kroos has been excellent over the past couple of seasons for Real and the German National team. His incisive passing and ability to single-handedly steer the flow of the game are the exact qualities Guardiola looks for in his midfielders. His passing accuracy in close to 90% which is exceptional and is seen as an ideal long-term replacement for Yaya Toure. The prospect of Kroos and Gundogan in the City midfield had the Etihad faithful salivating. And the apparent inclination of Kroos to re-join Pep had the Sky Blues confident that a deal was in the offing.
But a possible bid of £60m has hit an unexpected roadblock. City chiefs were of the impression that Kroos earned an estimated £120,000-a week, but recent revelations have indicated a figure nearer to the double of that amount. This has expectedly got the who’s who at City baulking over a move and puts them in a dilemma of finding a space for their No.1 transfer target on their wage bill. Yaya’s name has been circulated as someone who could be sacrificed with his huge £240,000-a week earnings, but the recent admission of Pep that Yaya is a part of his team plans for the immediate future puts further doubts over a move for the German midfield ace.
While it is imperative for a club to balance their wage structures and remain within financial constraints, supporters would be hoping the City hierarchy find a solution to accommodate Kroos, in the event the player is willing to move to the Etihad. While there will be emotions attached with the present City players, for the Sky Blues to compete with the best in the world, there has to an element of ruthlessness aligned with logic to attain their full potential.
With Jose Mourinho armed with Pogba at the Theatre of Dreams, City fans hope Pep pushes for the dream midfield duo of Kroos and Gundogan at the Etihad.