No Time for Losers Manchester City 19/20 - Three-peat for Pep?

Hey I’m Chris, the guy who you may have read Ruth talk about and offer a high amount of praise for in her last couple of blogs. (Thanks Ruth, no pressure then! ) As she said I’ll be writing alongside her for The Rolling Twenties from now on, and will cover a wide range of topics beginning with a new sports feature for you readers to sink your teeth into.  But before we start a ‘very’ brief introduction to me. I’m a typical-ish twenty something guy with twin sons and a passion for all things sports and films, as well as the outdoors, and needless to say writing.
I hope to build on the great work Ruth’s done and be a part of The Rolling Twenties for years to come. Although, at 29, my rolling days are numbered. It won’t be long before I’m writing for the Tumbling Thirties and the Freefall Forties or whatever Ruth decides to call them!  Anyhow, that’s for the future, right now here’s my first piece for the blog. Sit back and enjoy.
No Time for Losers. Pep and Man City.

There’s an old saying about becoming a champion.
Getting to the top is easy, staying there is the hard part.”

Through my new feature titled ‘No Time for Losers,’ we’ll look at the defending champions from a variety of different sports and competitions, analysing what state they’re in going into their title defense. We’ll look at the changes, the challenges and any potential hints of a downfall. Ultimately we'll come to a conclusion of what their chances of retention are and, most importantly, whether they’ll be featured here again in a years time. So without further ado I give you our first champions. Pep’s pass happy, fashionista premier league champions of England, the sky blue avalanche destroying all before them, the football team we call....Manchester City.

If there was ever a character who personified the belief ‘No Time For Losers’ it’s Pep Guardiola. With titles scattered across the continent from Manchester to Munich, the Man City boss only knows the life of a champion. The teams he assembles turn the average into the exceptional and the exceptional into perfection, all underlined with the unquestioning desire to not only win but win in style. (And not just on the pitch, but in his famously trendy jacket/cardigan aka ‘the jardigan’). To not only be the best around but to be better than themselves. To be better tomorrow than you are today. 

Well, after two titles and 198 points collected in their last two campaigns, the burning question for Pep this season is: How on earth do I keep improving this team? 
Become immortal like the Arsenal invincibles of 04? 
Perhaps grab every piece of silver in sight like his Barcelona side of 09? 
(Insert image of Pep furiously stuffing silver into his jardigan pockets like a madman at the end of the Crystal Maze).
It’s certainly possible. His latest incarnation of players look as determined to pass their way to perfection as you would expect.
Pep and the title. As trendy as ever, minus his Jardigan.

First things first however, they must retain their title and complete the three-peat, something only four clubs have ever been able to do in the English top flight. Of course, a born winner like Pep has already achieved this feat in both Spain and Germany witch Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. See, he's never had time for the loser lifestyle has he this bloke?
The team is obviously as powerful as ever and flexed their muscles with a strong pre-season anda 5-0 demolition of West Ham in their first league game. New boy Rodri, one of only two real big money signings alongside fullback Cancelo from Juventus, slotted in as well as you’d expect in centre-mid. Raheem Sterling continued Pep’s path of average to exceptional to perfect with a hat-trick, already looking a good bet to eclipse his 17 goals from last season. (Got to be better tomorrow than today people!)
Raheem Sterling and his match ball. First of many?

The side still has what Pep has called “the best young player I’ve ever worked with” in Phil Foden waiting on the sidelines like a hungry pup looking eagerly at his owner's dinner table. Not to mention Gabriel Jesus chomping at the bit to take over from seemingly forever first choice striker Sergio Aguero, with whoever plays almost a lock to get at least one goal. Throw in the likes of the silky Bernando Silva, a hopefully fit again Kevin De Bruyne and the swan song of playmaking legend David Silva, and they look to have the ammo to bypass last years 95 goals and hit a full century. Whilst at the other end Pep has found his ideal keeper in Ederson, a guy almost as good with his feet as he is with his hands, conceding only 23 goals last season. A big relief for the boss after the disaster of poor Claudio Bravo in 2016/2017, Ederson could probably do a job in midfield for a League One club. (I'm pretty sure Bolton would take him right now to be honest).
So if the question Pep has been faced with is how exactly to improve on his all conquering champions, the question we’re all asking ourselves as footy fans I guess is : Who on earth can possibly stop them? 

Well, in a word : Liverpool.

Like the mountain rescue presiding over the sky blue avalanche, the reds from the Mersey almost halted the landslide last season. Amassing an earth-shattering 97 points, a record for 2nd place, likeable madman Jurgen Klopp's squad were almost perfect themselves after only losing one game all season. Somewhat predictably it was to Pep’s City in a crunch game last January which kept the champions within touching distance. 

Although Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs may argue, it would appear Klopp remains the country’s only hope to prevent total City domination. Like a bespectacled Batman to Pep’s Jardigan Joker, all the rest of the public can do is light up the signal and pray for help to come.
City superhero Vincent Kompany leaves a big hole to fill. 

However, when City’s own superhero Vincent Komoany decided to leave in the summer a lot of teams may have started to believe their prayers were beginning to be answered. The long time leader Kompany decided to return to his boyhood club Anderlecht last May and leaves a large hole, not only in the defence, but in the changing room too. The now ex City captain put the ‘man’ into Man City and it remains to be seen if anyone in the team has what it takes to be a leader when times aren’t always perfect. For example, who will score a 25 yarder at a crucial moment the way he did against Leicester? Well, to be honest half the team can score a long range scorcher (including the keeper) but to step up and lead consistently, he’ll be a tough act to follow for the others.

Another possible small prayer being answered (like getting a window seat on the morning train to work,) was Leroy Sané injuring his ligament and being ruled out for around six months. No one prays for injuries and City do have ample replacement, but missing the ingenuity of Sané, a guy who basically kept City alive last season with his winner against Liverpool, will at least take one arrow away from City’s bow. If De Bruyne misses playing time again and one or two other major injuries also occur, the challenge for Pep and City has some potential to falter, especially if Klopp’s team can continue to keep the pressure on.
Leroy Sané celebrates his winner against Liverpool. A big miss?

So will they falter? Or will they flatten all comers again? Can the bespectacled Batman outwit our Jardigan Joker? Or will Pep have his third three-peat? 

The answer will likely have arrived by 4th April. 

City will have just played Liverpool at the Etihad, ending a run in which they will have played Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and the reds over the course of 5 games. City’s last 6 games leave only one top half team from 2018/2019 in a Watford side they embarrassed 6-0 in May’s FA Cup Final. If City find themselves top again come 4th April, they’ll find themselves champions again come May. Simple if they can do it.....but can they do it? Let's finally take a look at their chances...

Overall chance of retention: 8/10

They lose a point for losing their leader Kompany and another for the continued efforts of Klopp’s Liverpool. Not a lot else wrong with City as Pep closes in on perfection. (Again)

Personal Prediction: Winner or Loser? Winner

Pep never has been a loser and he won’t be next season. He’ll erase any complacency, demand even more from his world class squad and leave Klopp, who will be hard pressed to match City again, shrugging his shoulders and grinning his big grin reluctantly at the champions in sky blue once more.


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