One of the many things that makes Pep Guardiola arguably the best manager in the world is the unshakable confidence and belief that he has in his own methods.
Guardiola knows how he wants his teams to play and he inevitably makes it happen, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.
Manchester City appointed Guardiola back in 2016 because they knew he guarantees entertaining, attack-minded football and, most importantly, success.
However, one of his biggest decisions on arrival at the Etihad Stadium was an unpopular one with the club’s supporters: getting rid of Joe Hart.
England’s first-choice goalkeeper had been with City since 2006 and was a popular member of the squad inside the dressing room, but that didn’t matter to Guardiola, who knew he needed a keeper with superior footballing qualities.
Hart’s City career was brought to an abrupt end on Guardiola’s very first day at the Etihad Stadium.
Following an unsuccessful experiment with Claudio Bravo, Guardiola eventually found his perfect keeper in the form of Brazilian shot-stopper Ederson, who cost £35 million from Benfica.
The 25-year-old has made a huge impact during his first season-and-a-half at City - and is absolutely perfect for the system Guardiola plays.
Earlier this year, Ederson made the bold claim that he could play as a central midfielder in the Premier League. That’s how confident he is with the ball at his feet.
“So, if necessary I’m definitely up to the task,” Ederson told reporters back in February. “It wouldn’t be easy, especially in the Premier League, but I think I could manage the challenge.”
But do other footballers agree?
Peter Crouch was asked at what level he thinks Ederson could play in midfield - and the Stoke City forward isn’t convinced the goalkeeper would be good enough to play in the Premier League, even though he admires his footballing talent.
“At what level of football could Ederson play central midfield? Give him a central midfield engine, at what level could he play?” Crouch was asked on his podcast.
“What I see in matches, yeah, he looks like he could play - definitely,” Crouch responded.
Asked if he could play in the Premier League, Crouch wasn’t entirely sure about that.
“I don’t know about that,” he continued. “He’s never under any pressure really. I know he pings it out.
“Putting someone in central midfield is a bit different [in terms of] being able to see the whole picture.”
It’s hard to disagree with Crouch’s assessment. Pinging the ball out from his penalty area and actually playing in midfield, where opposition midfielders are closing you down from all angles, are two totally different things.
Ederson would probably have a shock if he was ever deployed in midfield in a Premier League fixture. That said, he could probably do a job lower down English football's pyramid.
Despite his uncertainty over whether Ederson could cut it in midfield in England's top division, Crouch has been hugely impressed with how the South American has helped transform Guardiola’s team.
“When Pep Guardiola came in and said he didn’t want Joe Hart, I was like ‘he’s [England’s] best goalkeeper’. It’s a big, big statement to come in and say ‘England’s No. 1, Man City’s No. 1, no - don’t fancy him’,” he added.
“I thought ‘you’ve got to get this right now because if you don’t, people will come calling for you because you got rid of a top, top keeper’.
“He didn’t get it right at first. There were teething problems when [Claudio] Bravo came in and [Willy] Caballero. He stuck to his guns, fair play, and obviously ended up with Ederson, who’s incredible with his feet.
“You look at it now and it’s a stroke of genius because he’s like an extra player on the pitch. If the centre-halves are in trouble, they can go back to the keeper and know that he’s going to keep the ball, roll it back into midfield or go out the other side.
“For the way they play it’s absolutely perfect and he’s found something that no-one really saw. No-one really saw a goalkeeper being able to play it as well as the rest of the players.
“It genuinely looks like they have an extra man at times.”News Now - Sport News