All football managers have decisions to make, but at some clubs the choices mean more than at others.
Pep Guardiola has steered Manchester City to a historic domestic treble during his time at the Etihad, but that doesn’t mean he has got every call right. Let’s take a look at four of his biggest decisions and whether they have panned out well or not.
Replacing Joe Hart
Guardiola’s goalkeepers have needed to be able to play with the ball at their feet. That wasn’t something on taking the Man City job he felt then Etihad number one Joe Hart had in his locker.
Instead of giving a player who was an England regular at the time the benefit of the doubt, Guardiola acted decisively and signed Claudio Bravo from old club Barcelona. Hart, meanwhile, was farmed out on loan to Torino never to regain his place.
Although Chile keeper Bravo has since been displaced by Ederson of Brazil, you don’t hear City fans lamenting the loss of Hart. Guardiola has been more than vindicated in his decision to ditch him by the trophies brought to the Etihad, so this call has to go down as a hit.
The Man City boss is certainly not against promoting homegrown talent. Guardiola has signed Kyle Walker, helped Raheem Sterling realise his potential and nurtured the still-fledgeling career of academy graduate Phil Foden.
Where the Spaniard’s magic is less evident, however, is with John Stones. This ball-playing centre back who came through the ranks of hometown club Barnsley was first given a Premier League platform on which to showcase his talents at Everton.
Stones may not have been fully fit all the time since joining Man City, but Guardiola hasn’t always turned to him when he has been short of defenders. That suggests he regards this particular project as something of a flop, so we can say Stones is a miss.
Changing of the guard at full-back
After a year at the Etihad, Guardiola identified another problem – ageing full-backs. Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov, Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta were all moved on in the same transfer window to be replaced by Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Walker.
It’s no accident that Man City won the next two Premier League titles. Although Mendy’s fitness has been fragile, Walker has stepped up on his promise at Tottenham and become a serial winner. Left-back remains a bone of contention, but this, by and large, has to go down as a Guardiola hit.
Not replacing Vincent Kompany
This isn’t to say that no attempt was made, but one of the reasons why they were fewer Man City betting tips for the title this season was the failure to bring someone in when Vincent Kompany left the Etihad. The Belgium defender was a captain of real stature during what has been the club’s most successful era.
Kompany was perhaps past his prime with fitness issues mounting up and restricting him, but nobody came in to replace him. Aymeric Laporte picked up yet another serious injury and that left City short.
Guardiola talked of dropping Fernandinho in at centre back with cover in holding midfield courtesy of summer signing Rodri. He has done that an awful lot and the upshot of it is City won’t be Premier League champions again this season. A miss then.