It’s been 10 years since Guardiola made his name as a managerial mastermind. On Saturday, he added further evidence to that by becoming the first manager to win a domestic treble in England. He’s also the first to win the English Premier League back-to-back since Ferguson pulled it off 10 years ago. When he arrived in England, it was suggested that he would struggle in what is arguably the toughest league in the world. After 3 years, it’s fair to say that he has smashed that notion.
To win a domestic treble is nothing new (PSG do it almost every year) but to do it in England is not just new…it’s astonishing. The Man City side we witnessed this season was just as good as the one we saw last year. The additions to the squad were very few; just Mahrez coming in as a major addition…and yet, they managed to beat off stiff competition to retain their league crown. Put this into perspective: Liverpool were exceptional all season. They lost just one game and 2 of their forwards finished as joint top-scorers in the league (Mane and Salah). Their goalkeeper kept the most clean sheets while their best defender was named as the PFA player of the Year. If Liverpool was classified as a super team, imagine a team that finished AHEAD of that super team. Just imagine that.
Last season, Man City broke records to finish with 100 points in the league and this year, they finished with just 2 points short of that. For Guardiola, this is nothing new. He was winning league titles, in record time, in Spain and Germany. To do something similar with Man City, in a league where every team improves significantly every year, shows you how incredible he is as a manager. Having good players is not enough. You need a manager that can drive these players towards winning again, and again. Guardiola has been that manager. He’s been a genius manager.
Of course we can use a bunch of things to beat him. Despite winning the Champions’ League twice with Barcelona, he still gets criticized for not winning it with Bayern and Man City. Some have said that he had Messi in his ranks…and the Argentine is one of a kind so…They forget that Guardiola made Messi the player he is. They forget that under Guardiola, Messi scored over 70 goals in a season…he hasn’t scored that many since. Regardless of the lack of another ‘Messi’, Guardiola has still improved a lot of players over the years. Recent among them is Raheem Sterling, who had a 20-goal season for the first time in his life. Guardiola makes world-class players so good that they somehow manage to reach a higher level, inspite of their enormous talent. Who would have thought that the likes of Aguero, Kompany, Fernandinho, and Silva can still find an extra gear to perform and win? Few managers can achieve that.
We could talk about the money he spends. Let’s face it: many managers spend money. Many managers blow millions to improve their squads. The difference between them and Guardiola is that he actually knows the players that would work in his system (barring Ibrahimovic of course…every manager has one that didn’t work out). The likes of Bernado Silva, Sane, Walker, Gabriel, and Gundogan are all players that are expected to play well…and they have done exactly that. Not many managers can boast of signing expensive players who flopped on their watch. You don’t have to look far for examples: just think of the most expensive player and the highest-paid player in the English Premier League…and then remember the manager that signed them.
It’s a shame he hasn’t won the UEFA Champions’ League since 2011, but most successful managers have only won it twice anyway. The Man City squad was stretched too thin for that challenge this season but having done a double in 2017/2018 and a domestic treble in 2018/2019, who’s to say he’s not primed to smash more records. I have never doubted his genius and neither should anyone.