Josep Guardiola. The man who’s set forth a tactical revolution in managing footballing clubs in the 21st century. His first match in charge of Manchester City was bound to be the subject of much excitement, no matter who they faced. Even if it was typically low-flying Sunderland. The men and ladies, boys and girls alike quickly took place in their seats, hoping to see something magical unravel in front of their very eyes. The usually half-empty and often trolled ‘Emptyhad’ was full to its brim.
But all that were waiting to be taken aback by the stuff on the field were hugely disappointed.
Man City played the worst football that we’ve seen them play in quite some time. It was clear that they wanted to keep hold of the ball; it was not clear, however, what they wanted to do with it. There was a general lack of strategy and planning from the attacking players who were too careful not to lose the ball.
Guardiola’s famous for this categorization that all his teams have had. He is very serious about you keeping the ball, wherever you are, whoever is around you. This resulted in sideways and backwards passing from City players who were, if one may suggest, too careful.
Sunderland, on the other hand, were slowly re-gaining confidence after the horrendous start to the game that they made courtesy of a penalty converted by Sergio Agüero. Lamine Koné was particularly impressive, it was clear why Koeman and Everton are heavily in pursuit of his services. The Ivorian defender stepped up when he needed too, made tackles that couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, and showed the pace and strength that he is mostly noted for. If City hadn’t gotten the late goal, he might’ve been a legitimate Man of the Match candidate.
City’s awful play while on the ball failed to produce any results throughout the game, as only a penalty and an own goal saved them from an opening day embarrassment. Jermain Defoe, perhaps the most underrated striker there ever was in world football, was crucial again late on for the Black Cats.
He peeled off inside the box from his defender, and a perfectly timed pass through the legs of the £47.5m man John Stones presented him with a chance to get his team on level terms. In usual devastating fashion, Defoe came up with the almost iconic low-hard through-the-legs-of-the-goalkeeper finish, and raced away to celebrate with the travelling supporters.
Then David Moyes, in his typical David Moyes fashion, took off Jermain Defoe, and replaced him with Paddy McNair, the former Manchester United defender. Needless to say, McNair went on to score the own goal that won City the game.
Well played, David. You almost fooled us.
As for Pep, it’s clear that he still needs time to instill his ideas on the players’ minds, but he’ll hope that scrappy wins like this helps him out.