City getting Pep sees United take another backwards step

Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City. Two goals in the first half. In fact, two goals inside the first half an hour. Outrageous events for the ‘restless natives’ of Old Trafford to take in on a school night. Who needs Pep?!

As a United fan, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Those in denial will try and have you believe that Guardiola has “always had it on a plate”, or that “we never wanted him anyway”.

 

In reality, Monday’s announcement that he’s off to Manchester City was a real kick in the groin.

Whatever the grand plan is at United, the process is obviously going to take a while, because Ed Woodward and the Glazers (how a City fan has not started a band under that name I don’t know) are in no rush to get things sorted.

Despite beating Stoke with some suspiciously attractive football on Tuesday, finishing fourth is more than likely out of reach.

United are too inconsistent to overcome a five-point gap, and Leicester, City, Tottenham, and Arsenal are much better than Louis van Gaal’s side anyway. Another season without Champions League football beckons.

Maybe that’s why Guardiola chose City. Or maybe it was due to his links with Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano. Or maybe it was just City’s hunger and ambition that sealed the deal.

From general infrastructure through to the youth teams, City have been taking over locally for a while now. Perhaps, thanks to endless Emirati millions, their rise was inevitable.

The worry for the red side of Manchester is how quickly United are fading.

Sir Alex Ferguson only retired three years ago. Ever since the club has lurched from crisis to crisis. The initial plan was to give David Moyes time, and money, to build his own legacy.

Instead he was given just nine months and only two first team signings – Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata.

Louis van Gaal boldly took over, and despite most of the world struggling to sit through 90 minutes of his dour football, the board seem quite content with the way things are going under the Dutchman.

To his credit, LVG has put faith in a number of youngsters, and at the end of his contract he will leave a solid base on which to build a new squad.

The next manager could inherit players under 23 including Memphis Depay, Anthony Martial, Adnan Januzaj, Luke Shaw, Paddy McNair, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Andreas Pereira.

Imagining what Guardiola could have done with such potential may only be the start of the torment. What price are bookmakers on another 6-1 next season?

The Author

Sam Viller

Manchester-based football and rugby league journalist.

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