For a manager with a successful resume, there sure was a lot of criticism about Pep Guardiola as he entered his first Premier League season.
Fans across the globe derided Pep’s previous achievements, claiming all sort of ludicrous reasons for why his success is meaningless. Fans said he only won in Spain because he had Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta. Fans said he only won with Bayern Munich because the Bundesliga is weak. Fans criticized his inability to win a Champions’ League title with Munich. Fans said he would struggle once he entered a league that challenges him every week like the Premier League.
Through five games into his first Premier League season, it appears Pep is ready to prove all those fans wrong.
In their first five games, Manchester City have secured a perfect 15 points, with and impeccable goal differential of +11, the best in the league. While City started better than that last season, a perfect point total through five games is more than both Manuel Pellegrini and Roberto Mancini can claim during their respective first years with the club. Five games into his first year, Pellegrini had his team sitting on 10 points, while Mancini secured 12. Considering both of those managers won multiple trophies with City, it’s safe to say Pep is off to a pretty good start.
Additionally, the success has come not just domestically, but at the continental level as well. City absolutely demolished German side Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 during the opening round of the Champions’ League group stage, and will look to do the same to their remaining opponents.
While Pep’s return to Barcelona will certainly prove emotional, and a tough game for both sides, it seems his City team are poised to take down the Catalan giants, and earn some respect for the English teams in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
However, while European dreams dominate the headlines, the hearts of the fans lie in the locality of their football club, making Pep’s greatest victory his 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at Old Trafford two weeks ago. City dominated the game against United, going up 2-0 in the first half, and while the Red Devils attempted a comeback with a second-half goal, Pep’s City would triumph on the day.
Making the victory even sweeter is the fact that Jose Mourinho, the man who oftentimes serves as the chief critic for Guardiola, patrolled the United sideline that afternoon, and had to stomach the pain of another loss to Guardiola.
Additionally, it only makes it even sweeter for the City faithful that while they dominated their Champions’ League group match and destroyed Bournemouth 4-0 in their subsequent league game, United were not so lucky. Not only did Mourinho’s side lose 1-0 to Feyenrood in the Europa League during the week, they fell 3-1 to Watford on the weekend, thus dropping to seventh in the Premier League table.
For a side in Manchester City, who was dominated for so long by their crosstown rivals, the ascent to the top of Manchester under Pep is nothing short of extraordinary.
With the likes of Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger, Jurgen Klopp and Claudio Ranieri coaching in the Premier League this season, many fans wondered how Pep would adjust to his most competitive job yet. Clearly, he’s shown through five games he is more than up to the task.
While Pep may have superior talent, and a long way to go before he can secure any trophies for City, it’s undeniable how successful this team has been through the first five weeks of the season. The train very easily could derail, and the faults that many critics screamed about this summer may very well come out, but for now, the success of Guardiola has those critics silent.