The hope was of course that Pep Guardiola would be a generation in Manchester.
That his rounds of golf in the clearly un-fashionable district of Audenshaw in eastern Manchester could just as easily become a part of his life as the Catalan restaurant Tast, in which he has a financial stake.
It is almost certainly not that. Waiting fall in the press room of Shakhtar Donetsk in happier times last fall, Guardiola told a Ukrainian journalist that he would like to manage a poorer team. “I could do that, yes.” But the cramped new world of Manchester City probably doesn’t seem to have it in him.
The hope was that manager Pep Guardiola would stay in Manchester City for a generation
But the oppressive new world of the Premier League champions probably doesn’t seem to have it in him
The dust has settled on UEFA’s announcement last Friday that City has manipulated their bills and the damage looks monumental. Only one season absence in the Champions League would cost the club £ 100 million in revenue, according to a study of their most recent financial results. That would limit their ability to buy and pay new players and cause an almost inevitable depreciation of their team.
Gone are some of the opaque pay packages that Kevin De Bruyne delivers, gives or takes £ 350,000 per week. You have to assume that there are executives such as Ferran Soriano whose pure recklessness – fueled by the bombast of Abu Dhabis adviser Simon Pearce, who said ‘we can do what we want’ when it came to accounting – have brought City to this.
But the silver lining is that a new kind of club can arise. The foundations are already there, because nothing can subtract from what has been built. Best training complex, best academy facilities, best player acquisition system, best digital output.
The practical changes will come in the acquisition of players, which currently does not appear to have any risk for City. There was the £ 60m splashed on Joao Cancelo, who made seven Premier League starts. The £ 62.8 million on Rodri, who still has to convince him that he is worth it. Good purchases have of course been made.
Gone are some of the opaque pay packages and potential executives such as Ferran Soriano
But judgments, poor in the last two years, will have to become sharper. We can see the emergence of homegrown players, still noticeable due to their absence in City, which populates the Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool teams. Less becomes more when money is tighter.
A new kind of city may also arise after Guardiola. The way the club built their entire structure around him sometimes did not seem so healthy and did not always make City a very happy place. Even Soriano and sports director Txiki Begiristain were assumed in the knowledge that Pep, their friend, could be next.
After the departure of Roberto Mancini and his huge entourage in 2013, City insisted that there would be no more administrative loan assets – but that is not how it turned out. The arrival of Guardiola led to the departure of various popular English members of the back room. Entire departments were upside down.
Guardiola’s trusted team of Carles Planchart, Domenec Torrent and fitness coach Lorenzo Buenaventura moved in.
Guardiola’s right hand, Manuel Estiarte, has great control. There has become a state-in-a-state in the club. Some call it ‘Catalan-chester City’.
Guardiola’s right hand, Manuel Estiarte, depicted in the dugout, has great control
From the beginning there was a feeling that Guardiola was just going on. ‘I have come to learn, so I will continue. If I were building legacies, I would have stayed in Barcelona, ”he said during the public event that City proposed in July 2016.
Although it is assumed that Guardiola will not exist if there is no Champions League to dispute, would that be a necessity? Jurgen Klopp – a finalist at Dortmund in 2013 – didn’t need such a draw when he arrived in Liverpool in October 2015, which finished sixth in the previous Premier League season.
The marketing line that City devised to build up the buzz around Guardiola’s arrival was “It Begins,” although that raised the question of what preceded it.
It was actually Manchester City. A club that had a very clear and proud identity before the Abu Dhabis bought it.
City had a very clear and proud identity before the Abu Dhabis bought the club
The overwhelming, if very unlikely, hope is that City may also realize how unattractive they have looked in their fight with UEFA, whose rules they signed when playing Champions League football.
Their weekend repercussions against lawyers who have concluded that they have violated FFP have been one of unbridled and fierce aggression.
Lawyers such as Charles Flint QC, member of the UEFA arbitration room who ruled over the city, have been accused of deliberate prejudice and misconduct in their decision-making. That is the same Charles Flint QC, mentioned in the Legal 500 for legal excellence in two of the last three years.
But a more transparent, modest and joyful Manchester City can emerge from the wreck
Within City’s attempts to prevent an FFP infringement, an internal message from their lawyer Simon Cliff joked about the death of Jean-Luc Dehaene, twice Prime Minister of Belgium, who was one of the seven FFP supervisors. “1 more to go, 6 more,” Cliff said.
That is the same that Jean-Luc Dehaene remembered as one of the great parliamentarians in Belgium. Cliff of City never offered a word of public apology to Dehaene’s family. Where in the world do you have to ask yourself is the sense of perspective for owners who supposedly bought City to improve the reputation of their country around the world?
A legal battle will now unfold. The aggression will not diminish. Not a quarter is spared by a club that feels so unjust. But as the sound and anger subside, there will have to be changes and new faces.
It may just be that a more transparent, modest, joyful Manchester City emerges from the wreck.