I veckan som gick blev Manchester City utslagna ur Champions League, efter ett galet dubbelmöte med Monaco. Hur förlusten kommer att påverka laget blir vi de första att ta reda på, då det är dags för oss att resa till grannstaden och försöka få med oss tre poäng tillbaka. Våra motståndare har varit lite svajiga under säsongen, starka insatser har blandats med plattmatcher, men det har räckt för att skaffa ett hårt grepp om en av CL-platserna till nästa säsong. Richard Burns(@RichardTheBurns) från Blue Moon Podcast gör ett välkommet återbesök hos oss på Totaal Liverpool och berättar här om den första säsongen med Guardiola:
1. Tell us a bit about the season so far, are you satisfied with Guardiola´s first season?
You could ask every City fan this question and get a different answer every time. There have been some significant disappointments this season; The loss to Monaco this week was something of a disaster, if we’re being honest about it. Home draws against Southampton, Everton and Middlesbrough halted the title challenge and heavy defeats at Leicester and Everton were as embarrassing as they were incomprehensible. That said, the positive is that Guardiola is learning exactly what his squad needs. There will likely be a massive overhaul in the summer – the media here are talking about a record breaking summer of spending and up to 18 players leaving – and Pep will be able to mould the team to his will. He’s made mistakes, there’s no doubt about that, but the really big problem is that too many individuals are just not up to his demands.
2. What has been the biggest talking points around the team this season?
The goalkeeper! I still maintain, much though it hurts to say it, that there was nothing wrong with Guardiola’s decision to let Hart go. At least not in principle. The big problem is that for whatever reason, Claudio Bravo has not proved to be a capable replacement. He’s had a good career and he can’t have turned into a bad goalkeeper overnight, but it’s just not working out at City. He looks completely shot for confidence and the expectation around City fans now seems to be that he’ll be straight back out in the summer.
3. What have been the biggest positives/negatives this season?
Negatives – after such a sensational start, when we won 10 games in a row, our rather large bubble was burst very quickly. Realising how far short some of the players – particularly the defenders – are of Guardiola’s standards shows just how much the club have failed in the transfer market in recent years. They had a full year to prepare for Pep (De Bruyne and Sterling are said to have been signed only after he approved them) and they’ve known they were chasing him since 2012! How they’ve got into a situation where the squad is not mostly ready and the four full-backs are all over 30 is beyond me. As a result, we’ve not sustained a title challenge, we’ve bombed out of Europe at the last 16 stage and the FA Cup is our only shot at a trophy.
Positives – when it’s been good, it’s been very, very good indeed. Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané have supporters buzzing to go the games again, including myself. Some of the victories have been a nice hint at just where Pep can take us if we back him and the improvement in some of the attacking players from last season – Sterling in particular – has been a joy to behold.
4. Where in the team do you think Guardiola will try to strengthen in the summer? Do you think there will be many players coming in or do you think he will try to develop your current squad?
Ah, I guess I’ve answered this a bit already! The defence will be overhauled and there will likely be another midfielder or two and probably a striker – and that’s before we begin to try and predict what will happen with Sergio Agüero. He may try and work with the youth team as well – Aleix Garcia in midfield looks particularly talented. But mainly, I expect this to be a summer of player turnover that might be unprecedented. There’s a lot of deadwood out on loan to try and sell as well as the players that aren’t up to Pep’s demands;
5. How do you think the fight for Champions League will end this year, which four teams will make it?
Chelsea will win the title, I think that’s pretty clear now, barring an embarrassing collapse. After that, I’ll put City in second, Spurs in third and then I think it’s on the flip of a coin between Arsenal and Liverpool. If Klopp can sort out the problems against the poorer teams in the division then Liverpool could finish strongly, whilst things are turning even more toxic than usual at Arsenal. I said at the start of the season that Arsenal would finally miss out on the top four this year so I’ll stick to my guns and put Liverpool in fourth