When Pep Guardiola was announced as the incoming manager of Manchester City, pie-in-the-sky expectations were immediately thrust upon the Spaniard, as if he were some kind of miracle worker.
Season no. 1 in the Premier League didn’t go quite as many had hoped, but Guardiola was prepared for some early struggles — perhaps even expecting them. Season no. 2 has started at breakneck speed.
There’s no two ways about it: the 2017-18 edition of Man City is already quite special, still with plenty of room to grow, and this season’s title race should be equally special, assuming Manchester United and/or Chelsea and/or Tottenham Hotspur can keep pace with Guardiola’s men.
Speaking in his post-game television interviews following City’s 1-0 win away to Chelsea which puts them back atop the league table, Guardiola held back very little in praising the performance of his entire team, while singling out one very special Belgian playmaker in particular — quotes from the BBC:
“It is important to win and especially with the way we played. In the first half we didn’t find the right position but in the second we were better. A big congratulations for the victory.
“Chelsea want to play and they are so so dangerous in attack but we kept the ball and when they had it we pressed as high as possible.
“We had control and the second half we adjusted our possession and the way we attacked. They could not play and had to do long balls.
“Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding, he makes absolutely everything. He is good in small spaces, he is humble and clever. He has speed and fight and can attack through the channel. He can play in four of five positions so we are lucky.”
As for De Bruyne, he says the entire team is already reaping the rewards of a refocused mentality, courtesy of the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager — quotes from the BBC:
“I feel very happy. We produced a good performance. We knew it would be tactically very difficult. They are one of the best teams on the counter attack. The way we played was very positive.
“We had a little bit of a plan not to get caught by Eden and Willian because they are dangerous, that’s why we played like a 3-4-3 and we managed to do it very well.
“The spirit is very good. I think it was after a game in pre-season that Pep said we need to get the mentality to hate to lose. This year we try to do that and win the points in the big games. It can change very quickly but we ha a good spell in September and try to do the same when we come back after the international break.”