Pep Guardiola and City believe the Premier League has parked tanks on its lawn.


From Pep Guardiola there was initially a pause, a sigh and then a step back in time.

It was three years ago this month that Manchester City   were accused by UEFA of breaking their financial regulations. Eventually, City found a way through that one. Guilty in small part, but not of the really serious stuff.

Sitting behind a desk at the extravagant City training complex built by Abu Dhabi money – with a reserve stadium many lower league clubs would be happy with sitting empty through the windows to his left – Guardiola, the City manager, initially looked like a man rather wearied by the fact he was being asked to go through all of this again.

Placed in these situations, football managers have two options. The first is to declare such subjects beyond their control and remit. The ‘my job is just to coach the team’ approach. 

He cares about this stuff, for sure. But of course he does. What option does he really have? 

If the 52-year-old allowed himself to think that the castle he has built over the last seven years has been bolstered by dirty money then what reason is there to get out of bed tomorrow? What reason is there to remain in Manchester? 

It is also faintly preposterous to suggest with such certainty that all nineteen Premier League club’s resent City’s presence at the top end of the table. 

That may or may not apply to teams such as Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United, clubs who have found it harder to win things and qualify for European competition since City walked through the door with petro-dollars falling out of their pockets after the Abu Dhabi takeover of 2008. 

But Southampton, Fulham, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Wolves? It is probably harder to make a convincing case that they give much of a stuff for what’s happening in the top one or two places of a competition in which they know they will always be supporting.

And if you do send us back through the divisions we will come back again. Even, he joked, with the help of dear Mike Summerbee who last kicked a ball for the club in 1975.

Guardiola was asked during this press conference whether the events of this week will motivate his players and said that they would not. He was right about that.

Modern footballers live in a bubble. It is not a stretch to suggest there will some within Guardiola’s squad who will not even know these charges have been laid against the club.

But this issue is actually more nuanced than that. Not all players watch, listen or read the news but they do listen to their manager. 



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