Manchester City are suffering because of Pep Guardiola’s poor transfer decisions

Ryan Bailey

Manchester City were favorites to claim the league title this season, which would be their third in a row. After 12 games of this campaign, however, they have already lost three matches and they trail leaders Liverpool by nine points. At this point last season they had conceded five goals; this season, they have shipped 13 already.

And that leads us to the reason why City are suffering: Guardiola’s poor transfer business.

When Vincent Kompany departed last summer, City were left with just three senior centre-backs: John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, and Nicolas Otamendi.

Despite this lack of depth, Pep didn’t bring in any more cover for central defense. Instead, he did what he loves to do: he spent on fullbacks! And he also went big on a midfielder, because City don’t have enough of those.

Laporte and Stones subsequently suffered injuries, meaning Fernandinho has been brought back from midfield into defense.

The Brazilian is perfectly capable at the back, but this means he is not doing his normal job of breaking up play and helping the transition from midfield.

Defensive midfield is an absolute crucial role in Pep’s system, and when City failed last season it was generally down to a shortcoming at that position.

Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan are great, but they don’t do the same job as Fernandinho. So, a lack of cover at centre-back has caused a major lack of stability through the core of the team.

And bizarrely, this issue has continued with John Stones’ return to the side, as Fernandinho has been selected over Otamendi.

During this period, Pep has also failed to promote highly capable academy prospects like Taylor Harwood-Bellis. He’s only given a glimpse of action to the excellent 18-year-old Eric Garcia.

Rather than putting faith in youth—which has worked dividends for Chelsea, who are above City in the league right now—Guardiola has put a 34-year-old in defense and taken him off his most important duty.

Of course, the season is young and City can still definitely win the title. They closed a similar gap on Liverpool last season and closed out last season with 14 straight wins.

And they may buy a centre-back in January, as they did in 2018 when they broke the bank for Laporte.

But poor transfer decisions have given the incumbent champions an uphill battle they really didn’t need.

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