Pep’s pride before the fall
It’s been just over a week since Pep Guardiola had his latest brain fart. It will cause an ill wind. While Liverpool’s last 10 games saved them from a summer of discontent, Manchester City’s final match guaranteed it. May 29 in Porto will linger like no other defeat. ” I am so confident in my team. You cannot imagine how confident I am in my team and what we have to do,” boasted Guardiola beforehand. It was hubris.
City have two trophies, but the emptiness will be tangible. The defeat by Chelsea could help the Reds more than they could know. Pep piles the trophies high but can’t stop putting a spanner in his own works to leave a sour taste. After all, he did it against Liverpool in the same competition.
Liverpool’s Kiev loss was a stepping stone
Liverpool’s Kiev loss in 2018 did not fester. The team was a work in progress; not quite complete. The upward trajectory remained undisturbed. They could barely get 11 fit players on the pitch that night, let alone replace Mo Salah with quality. Jurgen Klopp knew this. He even sang in defeat. City’s loss in Porto was on the manager and he looked suitably dejected without the bouncebackability of the German. If four years at Barcelona was enough to drain him and the players, this fifth year could break them.
Is City’s spirit broken by their tinkerman manager?
Forget Liverpool’s 20-odd centre-back partnerships. They were forced. Yes, Klopp erred when he threw Naby Keita into the mix against Real at the expense of Thiago. Dubious team selections don’t happen often. Guardiola’s obsession with doing something left field is a constant at critical times. Lothar Matthaus said: “I am sure that there will be internal discussions about whether to part with him. The players will doubt him since that final.”
Manchester City v Chelsea was not a game that Liverpool could not win. However, it might just have struck a significant blow to Guardiola’s hold on the domestic scene. It wasn’t the loss itself but the nature of the defeat that has undermined his standing. “Different year, same stuff”, as Kevin De Bruyne might say.
City missed huge chance to be European and world champions
City have no turbo boost going into the new season. They could have become the unstoppable juggernaut with European and world champion status. Liverpool know how this feels and the extra fuel it provides. It will take some getting over. If Liverpool fly out of their blocks in August with their customary zeal, will the Citizens “go again?”
Last summer, Guardiola said: “”If you ask me which team I’ve had more difficulty to decipher and deal with, that’s Liverpool. “It’s a very strong team, in every sense and historically of course.” 2021/22 may well see that history extended to number 20.