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Pep – the real deal, or a Premier League fraud?

Pep Guardiola; genius or fraud? Well we’re just over the halfway point in the Premier League and it’s safe to say that the jury is still out on the former Barcelona man. Since taking over at Manchester City in the summer Guardiola’s reign has been turbulent to say the least.

City’s start to the campaign was blistering, winning all of their first ten fixtures, but since then it’s not been plain sailing. Guardiola has tinkered with tactics and personnel, but so far hasn’t managed to find a consistent formula to produce the quality and swagger his side had earlier in the season.

It’s hard to say what would be classed as a successful first season in England for Pep. Surely the bare minimum is a top four finish, and City currently odds on to achieve that. Winning the title from the position they currently find themselves in seems a tall order, but according to many tipsters they are still in the Premier League title race.

What has Pep done well at City?

Despite the recent negativity from the media regarding Manchester City, it’s not actually all gloom and doom at the Etihad. City comfortably qualified from their Champions League group, racking up a famous win against Barcelona in the process, and currently occupy a top four spot in the Premier league.

Although you may say that’s the bare minimum for a squad that possesses such quality, the impressive thing is the impact Guardiola has had on certain player’s individual performances this season; none more so than Raheem Sterling.

After making the £50million move from Merseyside last summer Sterling failed to make his mark last season and at times even struggled to get into the then City manager, Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI. However, since Guardiola has taken the reigns Sterling looks reborn. He’s rediscovered his confidence to take players on has contributed 6 goals so far.

Other players whose performances have notably increased under Pep are Fernando, and Fernandinho; when he’s not either being sent off or serving the subsequent suspensions.

What’s gone wrong?

Guardiola’s insistence on tinkering with formations and team selection have undoubtedly cost City this season. He’s been unable to settle on his best team and the way he’s set his side up at times has been very strange indeed. The biggest example of this was during the 4-2 defeat against Champions Leicester.

Having opted to play recognised full-back Pablo Zabaleta in central midfield Pep saw his side fall 2-0 down in the first 10 minutes. From that point onwards the system changed numerous times within that one game and it was hard to see what the Spaniard was trying to achieve; at times even his players seemed confused as to what they were supposed to be doing.

Is it too early to judge Pep?

It’s easy to forget that Guardiola has only been in charge for 6 months. Despite the money spent during the summer, City’s ageing squad is clearly in need of reinforcements. It’s unlikely that Pep will act and bring in too many signings during this transfer window so it only seems fair to judge him after next summer.

Is he a fraud? His CV says no, although some recent performances suggest he is finding it tough to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. It looks as though we’ll just have to wait and see.

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