Pep Guardiola has lowered the typical Manchester City age by a phenomenal four years. The Blues manager had an average age of over 30 years as he inherited a squad from Manuel Pellegrini. All four full-backs, core figures on every Guardiola unit, and the incremental reduction to 25 years were systematic, keeping the Blues well-positioned for the following years. However, the consistency of the lapse which hit the Blues last season and which plagued them again in Leicester’s 5-2 home loss at this weekend may also be clarified.
Kalidou Koulibaly, who was 29, showed concern as a red herring and that the club eventually signed Ruben Dias, who was 23, all matched with the team’s evolution. After losing the Belgian last summer and selling Nicolas Otamendi, the blues’ aging profile is down again. Dias is the man Manchester City hope to succeed Vincent Kompany as a squad leader. It is a strategy of transition. Guardiola said when asked about Dias: “My congratulations to the club because we’re now four years old and young.”
Much was done in Guardiolas investing in full-back in his second season. Still, the truth is that the two of them are now a little tired of thrashing up and down the sides of Pablo Zabaleta (32), Bacary Sagna (34), Aleks Kolarov (31), and Gael Clichy (31) and joining in a game after game.
Central defense, the old leadership of Aymeric Laporte (26), John Stones (26), Nathan Ake (25), Dias (23), and Eric Garcia (19), with 18-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis more in the management’s minds, have experienced an equally parallel transition in central defense. Aymeric Laporte (26), Nathan Stones (26), Dias (23) all come into the mix. Now Kyle Walker is at 30, but he displays no signs of slowing down.
The midfield of Pellegrini relied on veterans like Yaya Toure (34), David Silva (31), and Fernandinho (32) but Kevin De Bruyne began to influence being used as a wide right-wing player in the beginning. Peter Pan of the club, still with passion and excellence, proves to be Fernandinho and is back in the middle of the field after his tenure as the emergency center-back last season but now Rodri (24), Bernardo Silva (26), and Phil Foden (20) are with 29 years-old De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.
Dias’s influence is still noticeable, but Laporte has become a stable defender and ball-playing center back.
Foden, though, doesn’t always stand in at Silva’s level, even though at times he comes close, Jesus cannot equal Aguero’s target, and Rodri wants a fantastic season to fill up Fernandinho’s boots. The move to a new and more energetic team can be achieved when these components begin to work.
Meanwhile, Txiki Begiristain says Manchester City must substitute its clear wish to win the Champions League, as he was responding to Thursday’s group stage draw.
Manchester City was paired in the group draw with FC Porto, Olympiacos, and Marseille, and Football Director Begiristain shared his delight at the draw.
“We are happy with the draw, but we always know the difficulty of all the teams that we play against,” he said.
“The Champions League, as you know, is becoming more and more difficult every year, you can see surprises already with some clubs out of the first group. Our mentality is to get as far as we can, but I have to say that we are happy, but in pool four, we got one of the toughest opponents.”
This City side has lost its ability to win a Champions League on the quarter-final stage for the past three years. They have ever completed the semi-finals, though, and after 2016 they didn’t match it.
Thus Begiristain says City will have to change its way of thinking that they have to win the highest European honor, to the expectation that they may have it.
“We have to take out our willingness to win or the need to win this competition because maybe it is not helping,” he explained.
“We have to show calmness and respect for this competition, but we have to believe that we can win. Again, the competition is growing and getting better and better, making it difficult to think that everyone has to win.