Pep’s Worst Champions League Run
By Andrew Kyte, Fri 17 March 2017 11:03
Disappointing defeat in Monaco sees Blues crash out
The dust has begun to settle on a disastrous night in Monaco. City have once more bowed out of Europe’s biggest club competition, and City fans will be wondering what could have been after an almighty collapse at the Stade Louis II.
Let’s not kid ourselves; it wasn’t anywhere near the origami workshop PSG treated Barca fans to at the Nou Camp last week, although it was a job that certainly should have been taken care of by Guardiola’s expensively assembled team. They should be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League right now. There should have been a sense of real achievement in Monaco – going on to wait for the upcoming draw with the chances of playing Barca, Real, Bayern or any of the other European powerhouses. Instead Pep will be left contemplating why City couldn’t get the job done in France - along with every other football fan across the world.
Luring Pep from Munich wasn’t an easy job. The rumours are City were trying to tempt him to Manchester for best part of three years. But when he finally arrived, the blue half of Manchester certainly expected more than a last 16 CL appearance in return for an open cheque book and a salary that matches most Championship side’s yearly budget.
The interesting fact from this humbling defeat by a zealous Monaco side, who might we add are currently top the French league, is that this is also Pep’s worst performance in the CL as a manager. When he stepped into the hotseat at Barca in 2008, in his first season at the helm he managed to steer them to CL glory beating Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 2-0 in the final in Rome with Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scoring. He would win it again in the 2010/11 season, beating United once more. Following his second triumph he would reach the semi-finals two more times with Barcelona before moving to Bayern. In his three seasons in Germany he would steer Bayern to the semi-finals each year. So what has gone wrong at City?
When Pep arrived at Barca and Bayern there was a definite stability in place. Both clubs were on the up when the meticulous Spaniard arrived. City were far from stable when he replaced Manuel Pellegrini with much uncertainty surrounding players and staff members. The upheaval needed at the Etihad meant certain players were moved on and others toyed with the fact they could be finding residence in another country, playing for an entirely different club.
Moving out Joe Hart for one took a pivotal player away from City’s rearguard and replaced him with someone completely new to the Premier League. Hart was a pillar of stability for the most part of his City career and its gaps like this that Pep is still trying to plug. The constant injuries to captain Vincent Kompany haven’t helped matters either, coupled with Pep’s insistence to play a formation that was completely foreign up until his arrival. Everything takes time, and in the Premier League and Champions League, managers are rarely afforded time.
In times of uncertainty teams rely on the likes of Hart and Kompany to help steady the ship. Yaya Toure for all his faults is another player who has had an adverse affect on the dynamics of the team. However, he managed to return from what most people thought was the point of no return. Every club needs stability from the ground up, and that has been what City have been lacking this season. Did it impact their CL push – most definitely.
So instead of looking forward to the glamour of the CL, Pep now has to contemplate what went wrong in a competition that has given more wonderful nights than moments of self-reflection. But there will be no time for removing himself from the spotlight as Jürgen Klopp’s frankly unpredictable Liverpool team await City next, as they make the trip to the Etihad.
City can take some solace in the fact that as superb as Liverpool have been against the top PL sides this season, they’ve been equally as terrible against the teams in the bottom half. So Pep will have to have City well drilled with a renewed sense of belief as the look on at Chelsea edging closer to the finish line as each week goes past. But from a betting perspective, it would be hard to go against City, right? The table would suggest Pep’s men should get the job done regardless of the Monaco result in the back of their minds.
If we look at bwin’s True Form index it uses an algorithm that calculates each club’s results and form taking into consideration where each team is in the table and then computes the odds accordingly. In this case, True Form shows City’s consistent form against Liverpool’s rather erratic run of results over the last five matches.
Looking closer at the graph it’s evident that True Form places significance on Liverpool’s losses to lowly Hull and Leicester because the odds were in their favour before the games were played. Liverpool were 1.65 favourites against Leicester at 5.25 before their last defeat. This is the main reason, as well as City’s relative consistent form of late, that True Form’s data suggests Pep’s City should come out on top against Klopp’s Reds on Monday night. The current odds True Form projects are City at 1.91 for the win, while Liverpool are at 3.70.
So, yes, City are out of the CL. And yes, it was certainly a humbling experience for one of the world’s most sought after managers, but even technology feels that City will get their season back on track against Liverpool at the Etihad on Monday. And with that, let’s hope all is not lost. Chelsea haven’t won the PL until it’s mathematically possible. There’s also the FA Cup to look forward to. Beyond that, there’s always next season, right?