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Pep Guardiola and the £423m elephant in the room

4 years ago

Pep Guardiola talks while Rafa Benitez inspires.

Definition of pep talk:  a usually brief, intense, and emotional talk designed to influence or encourage an audience

Going into the game against Man City’s fantasy football team most fans, whilst dreaming of an unlikely victory, would probably settle for a low scoring defeat to protect our goals against column and also make sure that our strongest team would be available for the next three critical matches.

Poor Pep Guardiola. He wanted Rafa Benitez and the team to roll over and allow his lavishly funded team to maintain their goal spree this season of three plus goals per game.

Immediately after Wednesday night’s game he came up with his expected quote:

“We did absolutely everything but it is difficult to play when the other team doesn’t want to play,”

We wouldn’t play ball but we played.  Manchester City had won 18 and drawn 1 of their previous games this season.

Their team on Wednesday cost £375.2 million and their subs bench a further £145.3 million.

The Newcastle side, in stark contrast, cost £53 million, and our bench £44.6 million: De Bruyne cost more than our whole team on the night. So £520.5 million funded by Abu Dhabi Sovereign wealth plays £97.6 million out of Big Mike’s (ED: Our!) coffers. (Transfer info courtesy of

In athletic terms, Citeh would be the classic flat track bully.

The odds on Newcastle winning were 9 to 1 or better.  So to pull off a nil one defeat and almost nick a point must go down as a moral victory.  Rafa got The Toon from day one and the performance against this season’s champions exemplified what the fans have been crying out for. Imagine if the roles were reversed and what Rafa could deliver with that (City’s) sort of funding or even a decent percentage of it.

Of course the pundits with successful managerial track records, not, had to have their usually constructive say: Gary Neville has blasted Rafa Benitez for playing the “most negative style of football he has ever seen” in the opening 30 minutes against Manchester City. Neville added there was “no ambition” and the tactics were “not acceptable” for the Premier League. What?

More pertinently, his co-commentator Jamie Carragher says:

“The Premier League is becoming a joke because teams are so unevenly matched.

“The teams at the top are so far ahead that the teams at the bottom are accepting they’re going to lose the game and long as it’s by one or two – they’re not going to give it a go.”

Perhaps not the most profound analysis but he recognises that any team trying to maintain Premiership survival is not going to commit hari kari to satisfy pundits and the global TV audience, when being outspent on transfer fees by more than 5 to 1.

What Carragher should have said is that something has got to give if the Premiership is to remain a competition, and not a procession, and maybe come up with some suggestions to address this.

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the match and the efforts of a dedicated and enthusiastic team who were not at the same skill level of their opponent but gave everything.  Let’s hope Mike Ashley saw something to encourage him to give Rafa the funds to strengthen the squad in the coming weeks. Otherwise our Championship Team, according to Alan Shearer, will be headed back there.

In the meantime let us allow Pep Guardiola to have the final word from quotes he has made in the past. I am sure we would all agree:

“In football, the worst things are excuses. Excuses mean you cannot grow or move forward.”

“People talk about tactics, but when you look at it, tactics are just players. You change things so that the team can get the most out of the skills they have to offer, but you don’t go any further than that.”

Hear! Hear!


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