What has happened to Manchester City? It looked as if Pep Guardiola had them on the verge of being one of the best teams in all of Europe in his first ten matches. But then came a 3-3 draw against Celtic, a 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotsur who we saw thoroughly outplayed by Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, a 1-1 draw at home against Everton in which their two best players whiffed on penalty kicks, and now an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Barcelona.
Yes. Lionel Messi is the best player on the planet. Yes Barcelona is the best team in the world. But Manchester City should not be losing 4-0 to any team, any time at any place, period. City has one of the highest payrolls in the world. They are leading the Premier League, considered to be the best in the world and have one of the best managers in the game. They should not be losing 4-0.
How did it go so wrong so quickly? They were winning games despite Sergio Aguero being suspended only a few short weeks ago. Now they cannot even seem to muster a goal. The Everton loss was particularly galling because they had possession of the ball for nearly three quarters of he match and yet had to come from behind at home to salvage a point.
Is fatigue a factor? That’s a possibility. The Premier League is a grind. Every team is tough unlike Bundesliga, La Liga and other European leagues where the top two or three are way above the rest. Then combine that with F.A. Cup and other domestic competitions where they face more Premier League sides and hen throw in the Champions League and for many of their best players World Cup qualifiers, it would be easy to excuse this on a grueling schedule. Perhaps Guardiola, a demanding coach, is pushing them too hard?
Whatever the problem is they had better find the answers quickly because their lead in the Premier League is down to a single point over the Spurs and they are in real danger of not making it out of the Group Stage of the Champions League. That would be very embarrassing a season removed from a semifinal berth.
Somewhere, Joe Hart and YaYa Toure have to be smiling a bit.
City was absolutely sloppy in this game. They didn’t just allow goals, they gave them away with terrible turnovers, players falling down, and just lackadaisical play. The red card on the goalkeeper was almost comical. He passes it right to the Barcelona player and then has to block a shot with his hands well outside the box. Just ridiculous. They look like a team that has completely fallen apart.