Fired up by a shambolic first season in England, Pep Guardiola has gone back to the drawing board in an attempt to construct Manchester City into Premier League champions.
Expectations were rocket-high when Guardiola came to Manchester after years of being chased by them, but a title challenge failed to materialise and his side did not make a mark in any of the cup competitions.
“With all respect to the players, last season we were one of the oldest teams in the Premier League. We didn’t buy full-backs for five, six years,” said Guardiola.
“We decided last season we could change the team to make the team younger for the next four or five years.”
“Danilo is 26, (Benjamin) Mendy is 23, Bernardo (Silva) is 22, Ederson is 23, so we bought players who are going to be stable for the next years.”
There were some promising signs last season — an opening brilliance of 10 straight wins, a stunning Champions League victory over Barcelona — but City never found any consistent form.
Guardiola seemed not ready for the rude physicality of English football and was blasted for saying he was “not a coach for the tackles” after a one-sided 4-2 defeat at Leicester City.
City’s football was, sometimes, dazzling and they were only outscored by champions Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, but finding an effective defensive configuration gave Guardiola a constant problem.
“Manchester City have the best team on paper,” ex-England midfielder Owen Hargreaves told the Premier League official website.
“It took a bit of an adjustment for Pep Guardiola, but City are my favourites.”