The Barclays Premier League is set for an even more competitive period in the 2016/2017 season. It will be an epic season that will be preceded by one of the most explosive summer transfer windows in recent years. Guardiola’s expected attempt to sign the best players, attempts by various teams to bolster their squads, and the transfer ban of the two Madrid clubs will all make up a juicy and fiery summer transfer window.
When he joined Barcelona, Guardiola focused on dominance through necessary re-shaping of the squad and worked with few players as he sought to regain the commitment of very talented ones. This was similar to his time at Bayern Munich where he works with players who can enforce his philosophy. Actually, he seemingly prefers working with few players that have his total confidence. His teams are characterized by stable hierarchies and minimal internal competition while his style of play is possession, territorial dominance, and free-flowing attacking football.
As he attracts the world’s best players and seeks to dominate the league, will he be a success? Of course… everyone expects Guardiola to be a major success wherever he is. His track record gives no reason for any doubt. He has outdone himself at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Will he achieve that at Manchester City? Will he achieve it at the best and most competitive league in the world? Will he do it in a cold Wednesday night at the Britannia Stadium?
The answer to these questions depends on how he responds to what BPL will offer him. Don’t get me wrong. He is the best manager in the world with a proven track record… but this league is different. Yes, the Barclays Premier League is like no other league in the world.
First, Guardiola should expect an English baptism characterized by complexity and high level of difficulty. While only three teams have won the BPL in the last ten seasons, it’s more competitive than Liga BBVA and the Bundelisga, which have largely been dominated by two teams each in the past few seasons. The increased competitiveness of BPL is far more evident this season where there is no run-away league leader. As evidenced in recent years, this competitiveness will increase and probably make it difficult for Guardiola to dominate.
Secondly, Pep should expect a long fixture list with no winter break. This fixture list always takes its toll on players, especially during winter and has generated controversy. Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager, has complained about fixture congestion and already warned Guardiola that this league is tougher than the Bundesliga.
Third, Guardiola should expect tough-tackling football from teams in this league. As Arsenal are slowly discovering, possession football accounts for nothing, especially in BPL where teams prefer to sit back, tackle hard, and counter-attack. Most of the teams in the league don’t play for possession… they play to win even if it means doing it the ugly way.
So, over to you Pep!