Former Manchester City striker Niall Quinn has said that Pep Guardiola has “lost some of his aura” in his first year in English football and believes he will be under huge pressure to deliver trophy success next season.
After City’s hopes of winning silverware in 2017 came to an end with a defeat against Arsenal in last Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal, Guardiola’s team are left to fight for a top-four finish in the Premier League that will secure entry into next season’s Champions League.
Quinn said of Guardiola, who joined City from Bayern Munich last summer: “Whatever happens in the final weeks of the season, this is not what was expected of Guardiola when he came in to City and he will need to make big improvements next season.
“For 10 games at the start of the season, City dazzled and Pep looked like he was the second coming. It seemed as if he had some gold dust and was sprinkling it on City, but that honeymoon period didn’t last long and we reach the end of the season with so many questions for him to answer.
“He has lost some of his aura and if he is honest in his end of year review, he hasn’t done anything his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini didn’t do last season.
“In fact, he has done less because Pellegrini won a trophy with the League Cup last season and he also got further in the Champions League than Guardiola [City reached the semifinals last season], so there are big questions to answer.
“In my eyes, there hasn’t been any definitive improvement at City, which is a big surprise when you consider the reputation Guardiola had when he arrived.
“City have looked good going forward at times, but defensively, you would say that have gone backwards and that needs to be addressed.
“Man City only ever won anything when their defensive leader Vincent Kompany was fully fit and City have made some poor decisions trying to solve their problems at the back in recent years.
“Last summer, they signed a player in John Stones and he was bought primarily to pass the ball. He was never brought in to defend and that weakness has been shown time and again.
“If Pep is going to kick on next season, and he certainly needs to, then he needs to focus on his defence and deciding whether or not his brand of football needs to be modified to be successful in the Premier League.”
Former Republic of Ireland striker Quinn went on to question Guardiola’s devotion to the passing game, citing the decisions made in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium earlier this month.
“In that Arsenal game, they were ahead at half-time and Guardiola still felt the need to change things tactically,” Quinn said.
“City had scored two goals, hit the post twice and were giving Arsenal the runaround in the first half, but he replaced Raheem Sterling with Yaya Toure and the width that had been troubling Arsenal was taken away.
“From the moment the second half kicked-off, you could see how the change had effected City negatively and in the end they dropped two points that were there for the taking.
“His reaction after the game was that he had made the substitution because he wanted more passing. We were all confused by what we had seen, but Guardiola believes in his philosophy and he is not happy if his team is not passing the ball.
“This guy has an incredible record from his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and it’s too early to say he will not replicate that success at City, but we can make the point that there are big questions for him to answer.”