Man City cast focus towards Pep Guardiola reign after European exit
Lee Gormley | May 5, 2016
Tough task ahead for Guardiola
Maiden Champions League success looked to be a distinct possibility for both Manchester City and Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich this year, but semi-final exits have seen European prospects shattered for another season.
In losing out to an astute Atletico Madrid, former Barcelona boss Guardiola saw his final crack at lifting a European crown with dominant German champions Bayern come to an abrupt end, as he now prepares for life on the blue half of Manchester.
A final meeting in Milan between Man City and Guardiola was intriguingly on the cards before respective semi-final exits, with the Spaniard’s imminent Citizens reign now the focus, as Manuel Pellegrini is certain to end his tenure without any major honours this campaign.
Considering the Sky Blues had previously been surging on all four fronts this term, only a Capital One Cup coup to show for their efforts will be a bitter blow to hopeful fans and even more so to the club’s demanding owners.
After seeing Spanish sides flex their superiority once again in Europe, Leicester City clinch a historic Premier League crown and bitter rivals Manchester United potentially set to end their wait for FA Cup glory, it proves the size of the task at hand for Guardiola, who is 15/8 with Coral for a debut domestic league triumph next season.
European exploits a positive step
Reaching the Champions League semi-finals, the furthest in the club’s history, is undoubtedly a positive step in the right direction on the grandest platform in club competition for City, but the second leg defeat to Real Madrid on Spanish soil showed they are still some way off reigning supreme in Europe.
Following an underwhelming goalless draw on home soil, Man City fans would have expected to see a gritty display at the Bernabeu from their players, but instead they witnessed a staggering lack of fight in what was supposedly the biggest night in the club’s history.
A 1-0 aggregate scoreline over two legs would suggest to the onlooker a tight affair took place over two legs in Manchester and Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane’s Los Blancos were rarely troubled, especially on home turf where they controlled proceedings.
Two shots on target across 180 minutes tells the story of the tie, despite Pellegrini’s ranks boasting Premier League ace Sergio Aguero and dynamic Belgium attacker Kevin De Bruyne, though they lacked urgency on a forgettable night that also saw skipper Vincent Kompany compound misery by sustaining another injury.
What next for City under Pep?
When the dust has settled on City’s failed semi-final outings, along with their damaging domestic downfall this season, the Etihad faithful can lift their spirits with the reminder that Guardiola will soon be at the helm.
The Spanish tactician will be hurt by his inability to guide Bayern to European glory, but back-to-back Bundesliga titles along with DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup successes in Germany are an impressive number of accolades added to his CV.
In Manchester, Guardiola now faces his toughest task and will have huge expectations placed upon his shoulders after building such an esteemed reputation. In his first term in charge at the Nou Camp the 45-year-old led Barca to a treble triumph, and his maiden Munich efforts saw him claim no less than four honours.
With that in mind, Man City are 18/1 to lift both the Premier League and FA Cup under Guardiola next term, while odds of 6/1 can be had on the Spaniard helping them retain the League Cup, having toppled Liverpool on penalties at Wembley earlier this year.
Silverware for Guardiola in debut season?
Having missed out on another European crown with a second team, Guardiola will no doubt have hopeful Champions League ambitions when arriving at City, and they are 12/1 to go all the way next term in light of their best campaign to date.
A top-flight and European double for the Citizens under their soon-to-be boss is 28/1 to occur in the 2016/17 campaign, but they will face a stern test as their main rivals look likely of strengthening this summer.
Close city rivals Man Utd are on the cusp of ending a 12-year wait for FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal, and no matter who is in the Old Trafford dugout next term, the Red Devils are surely set to boost their ranks once again.
Surprise champions Leicester will have plenty to spend after their incredible heroics in a summer which will see Europe’s best players put in the shop window during Euro 2016, while capital clubs Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham will be out to bolster their respective squads for a hopeful title challenge.
With all of Jurgen Klopp, Van Gaal (or maybe Jose Mourinho), Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger and Claudio Ranieri, among others, the Premier League will soon be spoilt for top managerial names, all of which will be wary of the threat Guardiola will pose when linking up with Man City this summer, ahead of what could be a closely contested 2016/17 campaign.