As I straddle my travelling PC on my lap, a fire crackling in the living room fireplace to stifle the immense cold breeze from the mountain, I cannot help but contemplate the slow steady demise of the Pep project at Manchester City.
Once a gargantuan team filled with immense quality and promise, everything seemed to come apart at the seams with the loss of a single defender like weak graphite carbon bonds.
The perfect balance has come undone and the thing that sticks out to me is, why can't Pep's Manchester City recover from it?
Does Pep only have one way of playing football?
It is not like the City team have a host of dead wood or a tiny squad that they could not rotate to cover for the loss of Laporte. Granted, none of the other defenders offer the silky passing under pressure and defensive ability of Laporte but that is where management comes in.
Focus more on the defensive shape. Stop holding a high line. Stop committing both full backs in attack. Shift to a back three. The options are endless.
City already have the speed and skill higher up the pitch so they can sacrifice a bit of the lightning and thunder, trying to beat teams by impressive scorelines, and learning to manage the game much better. I am afraid to say, a bit like Mourinho does.
You look at that City team and you see a team that can no longer play at that high level anymore. They are probably burnt out over the last two seasons where they set incredible records. You can only go so far before the effects of a burn out start creeping in.
Foundation Players Have Left.
Like with every other team, there is a core group of players that are basically the foundation of a team. The teammate that all other players look at when times are tough.
You think of Vincent Kompany.
When Manchester City were against it last season at home to Leicester, the man who came up with the winner was none other than Kompany. That goal meant that City scrapped the league by a solitary point ahead of second place Liverpool.
The other was Fabian Delph, an integral part of that title winning team when he came in at left back for the injured Mendy.
Despite not being a left back by profession, he slotted in with ease alongside younger heads and helped to steady and marshal the back line with the help of Kompany as the youngsters did the damage on the opposite side of the pitch.
Others are Leaving This Season.
Rihyad Mahrez was the guilty party earlier this season when he unfortunately revealed that not only was David Silva leaving at the end of the season but Fernandinho was planing on ending his time at the Etihad as well.
Fernandinho is an integral part of that City midfield and offers the tenacity and mobility that his replacement, Rodri, doesn't.
Aguero is not getting any younger as well and Pep has expressed the fear of not finding a suitable replacement for him in the coming seasons.
Strikers are notoriously difficult to bed into the team since they thrive on goals and confidence. When they fail to make an instant impact they are battered in the press and eventually harm the team's progression.
The future of City is not looking as bright. Pep is coming up on his fourth stint at the club and is seemingly looking at a future away from the Etihad.
The team is quickly losing its core base of players who were there during the bad times and the good times.
Players like Mendy, professional social-media marketers and fashionistas, are slowly forming the next generation of players at City. The glory hunters and the mercenaries are jumping at the chance to wear the City shirt.
As a United fan who has seen it happen before, until Solskjaer's sanitation project, I cannot truly say that I sympathize. It is poetic justice.
A bitter-sweet outcome as I watch Liverpool run away with the league right after they took the Champions League last season.
You cannot break FFP guidelines and literally buy the league, not give homegrown talent a chance and expect to dominate the league for years and years.
Eventually it all comes back to bite you.
Manchester has always been red!
~ from a forested mountain at the equator, Merry Christmas from me.
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