There doesn’t appear to be much wrong with Manchester City , but manager Pep Guardiola is wearing the expression of a man who fears that the roof is about to cave in at any moment. Last season’s Premier League champions have started this campaign with 17 goals in six games across all competitions and they sit three points behind title rivals Chelsea , Liverpool and Manchester United with the race barely into its first lap.
A 6-3 win against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last week put City in control of Group A following Paris Saint-Germain ‘s surprise 1-1 draw against Club Brugge . If City can win at Parc des Princes next week, five months after a 2-1 victory in Paris in the semifinal first-leg, they will have one foot in the knockout stages before the autumn leaves have started to fall.
But Guardiola is not at ease with his team’s situation right now and perhaps that is because of the triple-header of crucial games that they must negotiate over the next 13 days. The consequences of City’s failure to sign Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo to replace Sergio Aguero as the focal point of their attack might be about to hit home.
After what should be the formality of a Carabao Cup third round tie at home to League One side Wycombe on Tuesday ( Stream LIVE on ESPN+ from 2.30 p.m. ET ), City embark on three away games which could shape their season.
Saturday’s Premier League trip to Chelsea is followed by that clash against PSG three days later. And then comes a visit to Liverpool on Oct. 3 for a renewal of the rivalry with Jurgen Klopp’s in-form team at Anfield.
City are more than capable of winning all three of those games and banishing the negativity that has begun to creep in since Guardiola lit a fuse by highlighting the need for more supporters to get behind his team after 38,062 turned up for the Leipzig fixture. Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Southampton was watched by 52,698 fans, but the final result, after City had managed only one attempt on target, merely added to Guardiola’s frustration.
"Always when the game is not good I feel bad," Guardiola said after the game "[The fans] come to see a show, to see a game. When it doesn’t happen, I feel a bit guilty because we didn’t play good."
– Guardiola: I won’t apologise over fan criticism
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
Publicly, Guardiola has insisted that missing out on Kane and Ronaldo has not affected his team’s ability to score goals and win games, but most football managers are smart when it comes to picking their battles and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach is not naive enough to criticise City’s owners for failing to deliver the centre-forward his team clearly needs.
Jose Mourinho is a rarity in that respect. He has regularly complained about unsatisfactory […]