What Pep Guardiola has done at Manchester City since his arrival in 2016 is nothing short of spectacular.
No matter how much we protest, label him ‘fraudiola’ or poke fun at his questionable fashion sense, the Spaniard is still one of the greatest managers the world has ever seen – and he has changed English football forever.
But, it’s reassuring that every now and again (although it’s becoming increasingly frequent recently) the maestro makes a mistake. He offers us the hope that even he is not perfect, and never will be.
Manchester City’s most recent defeat at Old Trafford was one of these moments. While the Sky Blues were far from terrible, they stumbled to yet another defeat in what is becoming a nightmarish campaign by City’s incredibly high standards.
A third defeat of the season at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United may just be the tip of the iceberg, so let’s reminisce over some of Guardiola’s most disastrous results since painting Manchester blue.
Here are some of Guardiola’s worst defeats:
Man City 1-3 Chelsea (3rd December 2016)
Even Guardiola endured some teething problems when he first arrived at the Etihad, and while a defeat to eventual champions Chelsea doesn’t seem catastrophic, the way in which the game played out really was.
After having taken an early lead courtesy of a remarkable Gary Cahill own goal, City were on course to topple the league’s leaders at half time – bringing a run of seven straight Chelsea victories to an end. But a second-half capitulation, in which they conceded to Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard in the space of half an hour, firmly put a dent in their title charge, as well as thrusting the Blues closer to the title.
However, this wasn’t the end of the proceedings. Sergio Aguero’s horrific late challenge on David Luiz sparked a scuffle between players, managers and staff alike, eventually ending with both the Argentine and his South American teammate Fernandinho receiving their marching orders.
Everton 4-0 Man City (15th January 2017)
The idea of the current Man City team losing so emphatically at the hands of Everton probably makes Guardiola wake up in a hot sweat, but this really did happen just over three years ago.
A then-unknown Tom Davies was instrumental as Everton tore the Sky Blues to pieces on Merseyside, exposing a soft gooey centre at the heart of City’s defence – sound familiar?
Arguably, this is the worst result and performance of the Guardiola era, and what is more frightening is that Nicolas Otamendi is still self-imploding on a weekly basis for the four-time Premier League champions.
Monaco 3-1 Man City (15th March 2017)
Well, Man City were going to finish a now unthinkable third in the league in 2017, but at least they could focus solely on the Champions League… oh no!
The surprise package of Europe’s elite competition – Monaco – were ready to take another scalp, beating the Cityzens 3-1 to overturn a 5-3 first-leg deficit in remarkable style.
Admittedly, Monaco did have a certain Kylian Mbappe on their roster, as well as Liverpool’s Fabinho and former Chelsea and Manchester United man Radamel Falcao – who all scored over the two legs – but it was once again City’s defensive frailties that cost them a real opportunity of lifting an elusive first Champions League trophy.
Liverpool 3-0 Man City (4th April 2018)
The fact that we had to wait almost a year for Man City’s next catastrophic defeat is a rather good sign for Guardiola. However, this one was really bad.
En route to the final, Liverpool absolutely dismantled City at Anfield in the quarter-final first leg, scoring three goals within the first 31 minutes to all but extinguish Man City’s Champions League hopes. The Reds’ desire, heart and unwavering work ethic proved too much for the Sky Blues to handle, leaving an empty space in the club’s trophy cabinet for another season.
Guardiola’s decision to play newly-signed Aymeric Laporte at left-back appeared questionable before the first whistle and proved utterly buffoonish come the last.
Man City 2-3 Man United (7th April 2018)
Having just been demolished by Liverpool three days earlier, City knew they could turn frowns into smiles the following weekend when they took on local rivals United, while also knowing a win would secure the inevitable Premier League title.
Facing his old adversary Jose Mourinho, Guardiola was gifted the perfect start as his side strolled into a comfortable two-goal half-time lead. With the Premier League staff, halfway through inscribing City’s name on the trophy, a Paul Pogba-inspired Man United mounted a remarkable comeback, scoring three goals in 16 second-half minutes.
While the title’s destination was never in question following the result, it did provide one big kick in the gonads for Guardiola, whose week would get even worse when Liverpool visited the Etihad for the Champions League second leg – with the Reds winning 2-1.
Tottenham 1-0 Man City (9th March 2019)
With Tottenham meandering along in the Premier League, the visit of eventual champions Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final probably seemed a daunting (and perhaps damning) prospect. And it really should have been.
Having witnessed Aguero miss another penalty just 13 minutes into the match, City’s manager must have been fearing the worst, concerns that were confirmed when Son Heung-min found a winner in the second half.
Ultimately, the Sky Blues’ inability to grab an away goal cost them progression to the semi-final and somehow turned a treble-winning campaign into a ‘failure’.
Norwich 3-2 Man City (14th September 2019)
Norwich’s greatest result in Premier League history was also an indicator that defending champions Man City were going to encounter a fair few difficulties this season.
With Otamendi and John Stones doing their best dumb and dumber impression, the Canaries romped home to a 3-2 victory which will live forever in the memory of all those at Carrow Road. Unfortunately for the newly-promoted side, that would be pretty much the last thing they would have to shout about this season.
Liverpool 3-1 Man City (10th November 2019)
For some, this was the game in which Liverpool won the title.
Despite it being just November, the Reds’ emphatic 3-1 victory moved them nine points clear of their title rivals City, while also forcing Guardiola to go full Basil Fawlty for about ten minutes on the sidelines following some controversial officiating.
As has been the case many times this season, City didn’t play poorly in defeat, but defensive mishaps and a lack of cutting edge in key moments cost the Sky Blues dearly, and pushed Liverpool towards a first league title in 30 years.
Wolves 3-2 Man City (27th December 2019)
Despite an early red card for Ederson, Raheem Sterling (after a gazillion penalty attempts) put Man City 2-0 up at Molineux with just ten men after an hour of play.
However, little did they know that Wolves’ freight train Adama Traore was in hot form, powering his side back into contention after netting and providing an assist to level the scores as the game neared its end.
While Guardiola may have still seen it as a point gained given the circumstances in the Midlands, Matt Doherty had other ideas, finishing off a sweeping City-esque move and gifting Liverpool fans a late Christmas present.
Man United 2-0 Man City (8th March 2020)
Following a couple of Ederson assists, the spoils were enjoyed by the red half of Manchester in the most recent derby, with City once again looking lifeless without the presence of Laporte and Kevin De Bruyne.
What is equally worrying for Guardiola is that Solskjaer seems to have his number, and no manager in world football needs that hanging over their head.
With the Premier League title a distant memory, the outcome of this rivalry was fairly inconsequential for the Sky Blues, but it once again highlights the systemic deficiencies in Guardiola’s world-beating side.
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