Pep Guardiola’s choice to remove Joao Cancelo from the lineup could lead to Manchester City’s greatest achievement yet.
But he left the club in January to join Bayern Munich on loan, and it appears he will not be returning.
If you did not know better, you might conclude that Pep Guardiola intentionally makes life difficult for himself.
Or perhaps he is experiencing a seven-year itch, despite having extended his commitment to Manchester City a few months ago. Perhaps he is only attempting to keep the marriage from becoming stale.
When his squad last faced Spurs roughly two weeks ago, Guardiola celebrated a stirring comeback – 2-0 down to 4-2 up – with a scathing verbal assault on everyone. Players, supporters, and staff are included. All complacent.
If we continue in this manner, Arsenal will “destroy” us, Pep stated after what appeared to be a tremendous comeback to most of us at the Etihad. Riyad Mahrez, such a player!,” Pep exclaimed, despite his agreement that one player had been outstanding that evening. Before the World Cup, he was on vacation Give with one hand and take with the other. Guardiola has not been reluctant to pick out players for criticism, especially in recent years. Kalvin Phillips once enjoyed the moniker “Yorkshire Pirlo,” but Pep quickly relegated him to the status of a Yorkshire pudding.
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Phillips is frequently reminded of his manager’s “overweight” remarks whenever he warms up as a substitute. The comments concerning the body language of some of his players appeared to be directed at Phil Foden, who has not been the flavor of the month recently.
In the previous eight months, a number of Guardiola’s players have departed, and he is always gracious toward them. Raheem Sterling to Chelsea, Gabriel Jesus and Oleshnikov to Arsenal, and now Joo Cancelo to Bayern Munich.
“He needs to play in order to be happy,” Guardiola said of Cancelo, one of the Premier League’s best players over the previous few seasons. We agreed to allow him to travel to Munich. Exactly like that.
Cancelo’s exit for the Bundesliga elicited barely a few raised eyebrows in comparison to Chelsea’s transfer window pyrotechnics. It should have caused jaws to drop.
Cancelo may have been frustrated at not being included in recent starting lineups, but so what? Wait until summer before selling him. It is unlikely that he would have stopped working.
Yes, City has an incredibly deep roster, but Kyle Walker has struggled with injuries and is nearing the age of 33, Rico Lewis is an 18-year-old rookie, Nathan Ake is a central defender, and Sergio Gomez is a winger. Cancelo, who is 28 years old and in his peak, has won league championships in three countries, including two in this country.
Obviously, Guardiola takes satisfaction in having a group of players who, nearly to a man, can excel in any position on the field. It could be argued, though, that Cancelo is nearly a unique skill – a talent Guardiola believes he can now do without.
Perhaps he is simply trying to make things more intriguing for himself, but if Guardiola wins a fifth Premier League title from this position, it will be his greatest accomplishment on these shores.