City are going through transition!

Spurs vs Man City

This is not the first time City have lost away to Spurs under Pep. In fact we have won titles without even scoring a single goal in Spurs new stadium. But, this time it feels completely different. It hurts more than it did in all of those previous years when we lost against Spurs. Ironically, it’s not today’s defeat that hurts. It’s the manner of how we lost. We looked like a team without any direction and plan to progress the ball forward. We lacked the attacking patterns that has made us one of the most feared clubs in the world. Fluidity was something that seemed like an oasis in a desert. All of our fan base were expecting us to flick a switch and get to top speed. It just did not happen. The problem is that it never seemed like it would happen. The difficulty with this defeat is that we did not seem to have more than one gear to engage

Reasons for our lackluster performance?

We must not look to pin down all the blame on the manager or an individual player for this performance. In fact, this is not a one off this season. If you dig deep into our season, more than half our matches have contained situations where we have found ourselves in a hole. Crystal Palace home, Newcastle away, Spurs Home…… and the list continues for a while. The fantastic thing is that we have managed to dig ourselves out of that hole several times this season. Other wise, we would have been in and around the position of Liverpool, fighting for top four.

Pep at the starting of the season was talking about trying out new attacking structures in order to adjust Erling Haaland in the system. After the first few matches and the goal scoring storm of Haaland, people thought Haaland has adapted superbly to the system and City will now be unstoppable. Compare this in contrast to Pep’s first season at City. We got of to a flying start in our first 8 games that season. Most of the people started to label us as title contenders. But, we finished 3rd that season. The foundations of that season built an era of dominance that resulted in 4 Premier League titles in the last 5 years.

That 2016-17 season was hard to endure as a fan. But, we all knew Pep was developing something special here. I think we are at the same cross roads this season. The arrival of an out and out striker meant that Pep needed to shake up the fundamentals of his system and create new attacking and defensive structures. We suddenly don’t have the rhythm of passing and the fluidity you associate with a Pep Guardiola team. It seems for the outside that we are too reliant on Erling Haaland. But, that is not entirely true.

Is Haaland the problem?

All of the media and the opposition fans will want to tell you that Haaland is the problem and we would have been better off keeping Gabriel Jesus. The problem here is that when you want to change something that is working and create a new structure, people will always look to cling onto the old. This is because change is so uncertain and painful. The world loves to live on the hinges of certainty and comfort. But, people like Pep Guardiola become great because of the way they embrace uncertainity and take on challenges. There would not be any other coach in the world who would have broken up what is working and looked to create something new. Pep Guardiola could have probably signed a Coady Gakpo and continued with this false 9 system. But, when you want to build an empire, you need to be 2 steps ahead of your competition.

This attempt of Pep Guardiola to create a system around a striker could be the next big thing in world football. This is coming around a time when many managers are looking to have their center forwards drop in to the midfield and overload it. If Pep Guardiola continued with the same style, he could have slowly been sucked into the completion and lost his uniqueness.

Unlike what a lot of people are saying, Haaland is the one around whom Pep will look to build this City team for the next cycle. Pep is looking to build structures that will suit Erling Haaland to the core. You can already see the work on it with the inverted full back in Rico Lewis. During this process of iterating attacking structures to suit Haaland, there will be dull phases where we will look passive. There will be phases where we will look lost with no fluidity. We need to accept this if we want to get ourselves ready for our next cycle of dominance. The next cycle of dominance will be around a physically built striker that would intimidate teams. It will be a new Pep Guardiola style of football. We just need to be patient while the great man works on it. It is very important for us not to judge Pep’s work while it is not even half done. He is as much concerned as we are for wanting to get the best out of Haaland and getting City back to being one of the best teams in world football

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