EyeOnEPL

Guardiola has shown he deserves more time to make City tick

Critics of Pep Guardiola who say the Spaniard is struggling in the English Premier League (EPL) do not know what they are talking about.

There should be no complaints after Manchester City's 2-1 win over Arsenal on Sunday put City seven points behind Chelsea.

Coupled with City's progress to the Champions League last 16 where they will face Monaco, I would say he is doing a great job so far.

The English have a tendency to mock foreign managers. Arsene Wenger was also ridiculed by some quarters for his scientific approach when he joined Arsenal in 1996.

For sure, Guardiola is probably realising that the EPL is one of the toughest leagues in the world when compared to his previous spells in charge of dominant clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

For one thing, there are no easy games. The 1-1 draw against newly-promoted Middlesbrough and 4-2 defeat by 15th-placed Leicester showed no team will roll over for star-studded City.

More than anything, Guardiola has been a breath of fresh air for the EPL, much like Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino, young managers who bring with them new ideas and boundless energy.

He might also be learning first hand how unforgiving the English media can be. The season is not even halfway through but a few poor results and he has already had to answer questions about his future.

But if there is one person who can deal with the heat, it is Guardiola, a proven winner at the highest level.

This is a coach whose all-conquering Barcelona team won almost every trophy on offer, including an incredible six trophies in 2009. His winning run continued at Bayern Munich, where he won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons there.

More importantly, he did so playing an attacking style of football that is easy on the eye. Most coaches can only dream of achieving the success he has had.

Maybe he did not hit the ground running because of City's weakened backline, not helped by the injury to captain Vincent Kompany, who has started only two league games this season.

Guardiola also could not regularly call on midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, a potential game winner who has been unlucky with injuries.

But, after seeing how City came back from 0-1 down at half-time to beat the Gunners, I am certain there is more to come from the team who have won two of the last five EPL titles.

A couple of signings in the January transfer window - a defender and a back-up striker for Sergio Aguero seem the most pressing - will give City the boost they need.

More than anything, Guardiola has been a breath of fresh air for the EPL, much like Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino, young managers who bring with them new ideas and boundless energy.

It is nice to see something new, and Guardiola has been bold with his tactics, including playing a three-man defence.

He is also testing players in different positions, like playing left-back Aleksandar Kolarov as a centre-back. It is a refreshing change and he should be applauded for sticking to his principles.

All he needs now is time. As long as the owners back him and let him build the team he wants, I have no doubt he can create a dynasty at the Etihad Stadium.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola has shown he deserves more time to make City tick'. Print Edition | Subscribe