Pep Guardiola reported for duty on his first day as Manchester City’s new manager and declared that he was eager to prove himself.
With six league titles and two Champions League trophies among a bevy of 22 managerial honours, collected in just nine seasons, some may argue there aren’t too many questions left for him to answer.
However, not questioning a new manager is an alien concept to the English media and by inheriting a City squad that finished fourth in the Premier League and 15 points adrift of Leicester last season, there are clear challenges ahead.
What will come as no surprise, though, is the Catalan passing those trials, then exceeding expectations.
Some wonder whether Guardiola’s style, the famous tiki-taka he honed with Barcelona, will translate in the physicality of the Premier League, but as the coach himself said at his Citizens unveiling, he’s able to adapt.
“I have no preconceptions at all about coming to England or the football in the Premier League. I want to learn as much as possible. I have an idea of how we will play but, when I arrived in Germany with Bayern Munich, I had some ideas of how the team would play but changed them as I went along,” he said.
“I know how hard the Premier League is and some people have said that I will find it hard to play the football I like to play in England so I said to myself: ‘Why not?’ That’s why I’m here – because I want to try.”
Already the club are trying to build a squad that will help Guardiola’s efforts.
Ilkay Gundogen adds the customary deep-lying control a Guardiola team tends to have, while Nolito should provide efficiency in front of goal from the wings. Think of them as City’s version of Xavi and Pedro.
They aren’t likely to be the last of City’s signings this summer either.
John Stones is regularly rumoured to be on the club’s radar and, after Martin Demichelis was released, a centre-back should certainly be at the top of the list.
Add the Everton man to the squad this off-season and the tools will be in place for Guardiola to return Man City back to the top of the Premier League, probably far sooner than expected.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.