Few clubs in the world have had the kind of wholesale changes in every aspect of their organisation quite like Manchester City FC.
Since being purchased by Sheikh Mansour and the City Football Group in 2008, the team has seen an unprecedented amount of financial backing and investment.
A squad that just ten years earlier was playing in the English third division is now worth over two billion Euros. What a wild ride the sport can be, huh?
Since 2010, Manchester City has captured two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup title since transforming into one of the top teams in English football.
But after a lacklustre season in 2015-16, the club let go of manager Manuel Pellegrini and brought in an individual who City Football Group believe can not only get the team back to the top of the Premier League but also deliver a Champions League crown as well.
That man is Pep Guardiola, who brings with him extensive European experience from his legendary run with FC Barcelona from 2008-2012 and most recently his time with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
Arguably the most talented and gifted manager on the planet, Guardiola looks at Manchester City as a great challenge and is eager to see if his brand of football will work in England.
We take a look at what to expect from Manchester City under Guardiola’s guidance:
Before Pep’s arrival, Manchester City already had a roster brimming with quality. Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Joe Hart read like a major tournament Best XI and have all shown their abilities to take over a game.
Others on the squad have had difficulty in either finding their role or truly living up to their potential that brought them to City in the first place.
Both midfielder Fabian Delph and Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Bony have struggled for playing time and consistent form since joining the team.
French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala found his first season in the Premier League to be a learning experience for the most part. His high priced transfer fee brought high-priced expectations that made his assimilation to England and acceptance by the fanbase a bit trickier.
Then there is the curious case of Yaya Toure; The immensely talented midfielder had been hailed as the most dominant player in the Premier League over recent years.
His size, strength, speed and technical ability are a combination rarely seen in any era, and he has been at the heart of City’s title winning squad in recent times. What seemed to change this past year was a loss in desire and attitude.
Always an outspoken individual, Toure has not been shy about criticising how the team uses him on the pitch and how he feels things should change moving forward.
There is much speculation that he will be surplus to requirements in Pep Guardiola’s new regime, just as he was in the summer of 2010 that led him to leave Barcelona and join Manchester City.
The transfer window is expected to be busy and expensive, with more players certainly still expected to come on board. But Guardiola has made two shrewd signings already that should bolster his team immediately.
The first was midfielder Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund, who Pep was able to see up close and personal during the past few years managing Bayern Munich.
The versatile 25-year old can play anywhere in the midfield and offers incredible flexibility in the squad. His defensive skills and passing vision should align well with Guardiola’s system.
The other signing is Spanish forward Nolito, joining City from Celta Vigo in La Liga. Scoring an impressive 39 goals in 100 appearances for Celta, Nolito has earned himself regular call-ups to the Spanish national team with his work rate in the attacking third and ability to play on the wing when needed.
Both players should thrive under Guardiola’s tutelage in the coming seasons.
Pep Guardiola’s tactical system, nicknamed “Tiki-Taka”, essentially took over the world in 2010.
Typically operating out of a 4-3-3 formation, the approach is based around possession and quick passing in the midfield. Jokingly referred to as “death by passes”, Guardiola will want his squad to control the tempo of the game and dictate how the match is played.
Barcelona used the system to dominate the Champions League and, with so many Barcelona players in the national team squad at the time, Vincente del Bosque used a variation of the philosophy to lead Spain to its first-ever World Cup title.
Even after leaving Barcelona, Pep’s coaching successors utilised the formations to continue the club’s successful play.
One of the keys to its effectiveness is having a holding midfielder who reads the opposing build-up accurately and can provide service to the attacking players in the blink of an eye.
At Barcelona, Sergio Busquets filled this role perfectly, and Guardiola will be expecting Gundogan to do the same at Manchester City.
Pep has stated that one of his motivations in taking this new managerial position is to see if his approach and system can work in the Premier League.
The pace and physicality of the game in England leaves some doubt as to whether this precision-based and skilful style will be able to bring success.
During periods when the calendar fills up with multiple games per week, Manchester City will see its depth tested as it carries out Guardiola’s vision. In that respect, do not expect their transfer window to be closed just yet.
After a disappointing 4th place finish in the Premier League and a painful semi-final exit from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, City Football Group and Manchester City supporters will be expecting nothing less than capturing the title in both competitions.
Big expectations? That is for sure.
But Pep Guardiola understands these demands and his managerial ability is what made City’s ownership target him in the first place.
City Football Group wants a Champions League crown delivered in the quickest fashion possible. Failure in that competition, as well as in the Premier League, ultimately led to Pellegrini’s dismissal earlier this year.
The club and their talented youth system want Guardiola to help build their future, as he helped do at the famed La Masia academy in Barcelona.
But make no mistake – Pep Guardiola is here to win, and he is here to win now. Tiki-Taka has arrived in the Premier League, but its level of success is yet to be determined.