SOMETIMES, a humiliating defeat can be a blessing in disguise for a club.
Manchester City have had a very poor season by their high standards. Winning the Carabao Cup and finishing second in the league is not a successful season for City.
In truth, it’s been a terrible season for the Manchester club, so much so that it has made people question Pep Guardiola’s management credentials.
City cannot review the season with any real positives, Arsenal have had a better campaign than Guardiola’s side.
It was all about winning the Champions League for City this year.
Their poor league campaign would have been excused had City won Europe’s top prize. Instead, they crashed out to Lyon, a team that finished seventh in a ‘Farmers League’, although I can’t say much since I supposedly play in a ‘Pub League’.
City are a team in decline, they finished 18 points adrift of Liverpool, losing nine league games.
They needed to bring a lot of new faces into the squad to compete with Jurgen Klopp’s side next season.
Success in Europe might have meant that the City board would have been reluctant in giving Guardiola a significant transfer budget but further failure in Europe’s elite competition will mean an unlimited transfer budget for the City manager.
Had City progressed past Lyon and been eliminated by Bayern Munich, that could have been accepted by many but Lyon are an average side and that’s what will worry Guardiola and why he will be looking at a major overhaul of players at the club.
City should be looking to add another five new faces to their squad along with the signings of Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres. Guardiola has spent over €750m since taking over as City manager and his success during his time in England has been questioned because of the amount of money he has spent on players. The majority haven’t justified their fee.
He has the luxury of being able to afford to buy a player for a hefty fee and if that player does not succeed, Guardiola simply replaces him with another expensive signing.
It’s not Guardiola’s problem that his board keep giving him money to spend and like most people in life, he’s not going to worry about spending someone else’s money if it’s going to benefit him.
City have acquired Ake to try and solve the defensive problems they have had this season but they have to also bring in two new fullbacks and another centre-back.
Aymeric Laporte is one of the best centre-backs in the league but frequently suffers from injuries and City cannot rely on him to play in most games. Guardiola appears to have run out of patience with John Stones and Fernandinho isn’t getting any younger.
Left-back has always been an issue with City. Benjamin Mendy, like Laporte, is one of the best in his position but like Laporte, is too injury prone and to have a solid defence, teams need the same players playing week in week out, not chopping and changing every game because a player keeps getting injured. We know most games what Liverpool’s back four is going to be.
It’s very rare that Klopp has to make changes to his defence and that’s why Liverpool are so good defensively because the back four are able to build-up an understanding with one another whereas City cannot do that.
This season was his maiden in the Premier League but I’d be surprised if Joao Cancelo managed to establish himself as a regular with City and Kyle Walker is a player, I really don’t believe is good enough to play for City anymore.
Walker’s main attribute is his pace, take that away from him and he is a very average player.
He’s not good in possession, his positional sense is poor and he relies too much on his pace to get him out of danger. At 30, Walker is only going to get slower, so Guardiola should be on the lookout for a replacement.
City need to sign a holding midfielder. Rodri was meant to be the player that would fill Fernandinho’s boots but he has struggled at times. Guardiola might be patient with Rodri and give him more time to impress.
Sergio Aguero has been the best striker in the league over the past several years but again, age is not on his side. Gabriel Jesus will feel that he is the heir to Aguero’s thrown but he simply isn’t good enough and City need to sign a striker capable of replacing Aguero.
City’s exit from Europe might have amused Liverpool and Manchester United supporters but in the long-term it could be City that have the last laugh because they will use that defeat to strengthen their squad and try and dominate football.
More in this section