After a couple down years, Manchester is again the center of English soccer. With two new rival managers in Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, things were always going to be testy in this first season. Some however, are a little bit surprised with how the latter is approaching his new assignment.
Through two games this season, usual mainstay Joe Hart has been shockingly relegated to the bench. The 29-year-old, who’s been City’s starting keeper since 2010, has not seemed to mesh well with Guardiola thus far, as Willy Caballero has started the first two games of the season. Though it remains unclear what he sees in Caballero over Hart, Pep has stated he’s been clear with the English keeper since he first took over.
“I spoke with Joe from the first moment we met in China. I try to be clear with my players and I was so clear with him,” Guardiola said.
He also made it clear that while he wants Hart to stay, he would let him leave the club if Hart wanted.
“I want happiness for the players so I don’t want the players to stay here if they don’t want to stay…If he stays he is going to improve.”
Another interesting decision has been the move to leave midfielder Yaya Toure on the bench. Toure, who has been among the most dominant midfielders in the world the past couple years, has been unable to break into Pep’s squad thus far. When asked about this surprising exclusion, Guardiola simply stated “When he increases his intensity without the ball, he will be involved.” Toure, who has been one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world, unfortunately may just be too worn down to satisfy his new manager. Now at 33 years old, it could be possible the Ivorian is simply incapable of covering the pitch like he once used to.
It will be interesting to see how these situations in the coming weeks. We know Pep can sometimes rub players the wrong way, as with Ibrahimovic at Barcelona, he is still one of the best managers in the world. Though it may hurt to see fan favorites out of the team, City fans should trust the man who wins titles everywhere he goes.