The managerial VIP section of the Premier League shall be filled to the brim this season, but new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola may just have the best seat in the house. Pocketing league titles in every country he’s plied his trade in as a manager, the Catalan will be out to do it all again come August 13th. Once again a favourite for domestic success, here are four reasons why the ex-Barcelona man could lift the coveted Premier League trophy in his highly-anticipated debut season.
1. The Pep Factor
After its announcement back in February 2016, the Guardiola – Manchester City alliance was one that was quickly thrown back at the Spaniard’s face for opting to manage the richest and/or most powerful team in the land once again, following stints at Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
His heyday at the Camp Nou, the official introduction of Guardiola into the world of management, was thought to be subsidised heavily by the quality and growing influence of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and a peak Xavi Hernández, meanwhile his arrival at Bayern Munich coincided with the reinstated monopolisation of the Bundesliga by the Bavarians.
Belief that Guardiola has had it easy all his career is conveyed further by his choice to join oil-rich City, but if there’s one team in the Premier League who knows that such advantages aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to breeding success, that club is Man City.
The 45-year-old will know such claims discrediting his pedigree as a coach are untrue, since the Barcelona side he inherited from Frank Rijkaard in the summer of 2008, with the Messis, Iniestas, Ronaldinhos and all the rest, finished third in La Liga, trailing the eventual champions, Real Madrid, by a staggering 23-point gap.
In his debut season as a manager, Guardiola flipped the scripts completely, smashing Real Madrid 6-2 en route to a La Liga title that had escaped Barcelona’s grasp for the past two seasons. A 4-1 victory versus Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final nailed the Catalan giants’ their second conquest of the season, meanwhile a 2-0 victory versus Manchester United in Rome’s Champions League final saw Guardiola wrap up a treble-winning season as the youngest manager ever (38) to win Europe’s most prized competition.
After sweeping up 14 trophies in three years with Los Culés, Guardiola arrived in Munich to succeed the highly-decorated Jupp Heynckes – a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League winner in his final season as a manager.
To outdo the highs of the Heynckes era was the order of the day and the 45-year-old laid the groundwork to do just that. The 2013/14 season saw Guardiola smash the record (14 games) for the longest unbeaten run since the start of a new tenure with a sequence of 28 matches, whereas he later went on to become the quickest Bundesliga winner with seven games to go, overcoming the work of his predecessor.
Bayern, unsurprisingly, clinched the title in Guardiola’s following two seasons, but the former footballer leaves Germany with a great blemish alongside his name – the failure to deliver Champions League success after three consecutive semi-finals.
Nevertheless, Guardiola’s Midas touch in debut seasons cannot be ignored and it could well prove to be a decisive factor in a year where so many of the habitual big boys aim for reconstruction as a general riposte to the disappointment of last season.