Manchester City announced the appointment of Pep Guardiola last week, much to the fear and disappointment of the rest of the Premier League.
Judging by the response on social media, next season’s trophy has already been decorated in sky blue and white ribbons and is on its way to the Etihad Stadium.
It is presumed that City under Guardiola will wreak havoc. Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea (and Leicester?) will be blown away by the Spaniard’s swarming system; the bottom teams will be obliterated.
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Quite how this conclusion has been reached is obvious. Guardiola is the best manager in the modern era and City have an abundance of money. Combine the Spaniard’s tactical nous with Sheikh Mansour’s wealth and out pops the Premier League champions of next season and beyond.
But those who have already crowned City winners of next season’s title are jumping the gun.
Guardiola, as successful as he has been, has never managed in a division where the competition is so fierce; where the team who spent last season fighting relegation could become title contenders the next.
Barca and Bayern can dominate
La Liga and the Bundesliga, the two leagues Guardiola has lifted titles in, do not enjoy the parity seen in the Premier League. In Spain, individual clubs are allowed to negotiate their own TV deals, meaning Barcelona and Real Madrid have been able to agree their own lucrative contracts while the lower teams struggle for money.
That isn’t the case in England, where all 20 teams share TV money equally.
Meanwhile in Germany, where Guardiola has managed Bayern Munich since 2013, the Bavarians’ dominance has allowed them to cherry-pick the best talent from their Bundesliga rivals.
In the 2012-13 season, Borussia Dortmund finished second to Bayern but were unable to prevent star player Mario Gotze leaving for the champions at the end of the campaign. Why? Because, despite being runners-up, Dortmund were 25 points behind Bayern.
The same thing happened a year later with Robert Lewandowski.
This isn’t to undermine what Guardiola has achieved during his time at Barcelona and Bayern. When he was appointed manager of Barca in 2008, the club hadn’t won a single trophy in their previous two seasons. When he left in 2012, three La Liga, two Champions League and two Copa del Rey trophies had been added to the cabinet.
In Germany, he is on course to make it a hat-trick of Bundesliga titles.
But if any evidence is needed to prove that next season will not be a walk in the park for Guardiola and City, just look at the fortunes of Leicester.
Leicester's improbable rise
The Foxes were bottom of the table after 31 games last season and needed to win seven of their last nine matches to survive. Today, they sit five points clear at the top of the league.
City have been linked with Paul Pogba, Robert Lewandowski and Sergio Busquets - three fine players who they could afford.
But this season’s best player - Riyad Mahrez - cost £400,000 and was playing in the French second division two years ago. Clubs’ scouting networks are so widespread these days that more and more bargains are being discovered.
City may sign the aforementioned trio but what’s to say a team like Stoke or Southampton - both of whom already boast talented squad - won’t unearth the gem they need to sustain a title challenge this summer?
City will be favourites to win the title next year but it’s not a foregone conclusion. The Premier League simply doesn’t allow for certainties.