‘This season just hasn’t been good enough’ – European exit reaffirms Man City faults


Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola (second left) has yet to lead Manchester City past the Champions League quarter-finals

Manchester City have seen disappointments in the Champions League before, but few of them will have done so badly – arguably their best chance to finally claim the prize they covet most, set aside in the middle of the controversy, but even more so by self-inflicted injuries.

Pep Guardiola’s side played with a powerful mix of confidence, discipline and panache to sack Real Madrid and stage a quarter-final against Lyon in this unique new format in Lisbon which seemed to suit City perfectly.

And yet, as they have done in Guardiola’s previous four seasons at City, they have failed in trying to break through the barrier for the Champions League semi-final.

Guardiola called it a “once in a lifetime” chance, but it was spoiled as the Catalan was overpowered by caution, gripped by the conservatism that cost him and his team dearly.

First, the shocking 3-1 defeat to underdogs Lyon means this must now be seen as a season of relative failure for Guardiola and City, compared to the club’s ambitions, aspirations and standards.

The League Cup was won against Aston Villa but their Premier League title was lost to Liverpool, while the FA Cup holders lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the semi-final.

Dress him as you like. If City’s final calculation had been reported at the start of the season, no one at the Etihad Stadium would have accepted it. At best, at best, this would have been seen as a hopeless disappointment.

The Champions League seems to be casting a particular curse on City and a manager who haven’t won it since Barcelona’s 3-1 triumph over Manchester United at Wembley in 2011.

City were defeated in the quarter-finals last year by one touch and a VAR offside in the dying seconds of the second leg against Tottenham, and here they can certainly offer a valid complaint of injustice.

Aymeric Laporte seemed clearly upset by Moussa Dembele before scoring Lyon’s vital second place, but sympathy for City is lacking elsewhere.

Raheem Sterling missed a crucial opportunity to tie the score at 2-2

How does Raheem Sterling, 31 goals this season, hit the ball from an open goal from five yards with the score 2-1? And how, just 59 seconds later, did normally reliable goalkeeper Ederson pull off Houssem Aouar’s most routine shot, allowing Dembele to send City?

In this case, however, the primary responsibility must lie in an overly thoughtful and overly respectful approach from Guardiola, whose decision to play a fullback three allowed Lyon a lead and a foot and left so many of its creators and manipulators-in chef, like Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden, on the bench.

This led to a lackluster lacking creative first half. City, by Guardiola’s own hand, gave Lyon confidence. He appeared to be guilty of overthinking again, a common issue with his previous Champions League strategies. Lyon are a decent side, they sidelined Juventus after all, but well enough for Guardiola to change his tactics so crucially? Surely not.

Manchester City, led by Pep Guardiola, lacked creativity in the Champions League quarter-finals. In football terms it sounds like sacrilege and that is exactly what it was.

And a fatal mistake.

In a larger context, he simply reaffirmed the faults of this City side which led them to lose nine league games and be defeated by Liverpool in the title race, undermined in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal. and falling victim to a classic smash – and grab it here.

Ederson has kept just two clean sheets in eight Champions League games this season

Who knows how City would have fared against rampant Bayern Munich after their Barcelona 8-2 torture? We’ll never know because they’ve never been good enough to reach the last four under Guardiola.

Guardiola reached the last 16 games in his first season at the club and the quarter-finals in three subsequent Champions League campaigns. It’s just not good enough and can’t be masked by all of the wonderful domestic successes he and City have enjoyed.

City won the title under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini and, although nothing needs to be taken away from Guardiola, he was named as the man who would cross that last frontier and claim the trophy that would confirm the club’s arrival as European superpower.

He has not yet achieved this goal. Could it be that City and Guardiola are tipping under the weight of expectation and hope when they arrive at the final stages of the Champions League, the prize seen as the ultimate destination of the Abu Dhabi-based club hierarchy? ?

Among the issues surrounding his system, City’s defense was always suicidal, as it has too often been at key times in the past.

City drew Lyon in the 69th minute thanks to a strike from Kevin de Bruyne – but they were late 10 minutes later.

Guardiola, who surely made a mistake in not replacing the leadership and presence of Vincent Kompany when he left, already knows that this team needs to freshen up.

One man who will definitely not return is the great David Silva, and what a sad end it was for the 34-year-old, a club icon after a decade at City, panicked to replace Rodri with just six minutes. left and the Champions League dreams of dying before his eyes.

Foden will fill the post, while promising Spain striker Ferran Torres has arrived from Valencia, but Guardiola has his most pressing needs further afield.

Laporte is exceptional, but not flawless, but the £ 40million arrival of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth is just the start and more reinforcements are certainly needed in the mold of Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

Where does that leave the Englishman John Stones, who is now a marginalized figure? Looking for a new club, one suspects.

City are also vulnerable in the full-back positions, with Kyle Walker inconsistent on the right and none of Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko or Joao Cancelo look like the required class on the left.

There is so much right with this side. Just look at the class of Kevin de Bruyne, the brilliance of Raheem Sterling, the easy-to-watch style that is gloriously deadly in full cry.

Too often this season, however, too much has been wrong and it was again in Lisbon on Saturday.

Cut that as you want, but another Champions League exit means this season just hasn’t been good enough for Manchester City and still leaves that gaping hole in Guardiola’s record for success since arriving at the stadium Etihad.


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