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Is this what you dreamt of, Pep?

OPINION: With his team cakewalking the Premier League title in a dullard season, football fans are left wondering just what makes the Man City boss tick

07 December, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. PHOTO NIKLAS B

THERE were a few minutes left on Sunday afternoon and Manchester City were all but assured of a home victory against West Ham. So Pep Guardiola, feeling safe, looked around and decided to give a fringe player a runout. Bernardo Silva duly took off his tracksuit top and pottered onto the pitch. Rather than all of the amazing goals City have scored this season, it was this moment which perfectly illustrated how superior they are to everybody else and why the title race is over already. Let’s remind ourselves that Silva cost £44m – that’s £44 million for a player you throw on when the game is already won.

With that kind of spending strategy, there is no competition.

So, Arsenal and Manchester United can run around at breakneck speed and play out an entertaining enough encounter, but none of it counts for anything really. Win, lose or draw, City’s billions have killed any form of real contest. This may sound like sour grapes from an Arsenal fan, but that would be hinged on the idea that I thought Arsenal could actually challenge for the title. I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see any form of competition at the top at all.

Such dullard times make you wonder what it all means for Sky Sports, who once seemed impregnable as the pay-to-watch sports broadcaster. They had us captive. But now the terrestial channels keep their crown jewels events such as the Olympics, Wimbledon, the FA Cup and so on. BT Sport have intruded on Sky’s other territory with the Champions League and the Ashes. Sky, meanwhile, must be relying on having something enthralling for us to pay to watch the Premier League. Manchester City cakewalking it through nine months is the complete opposite of that. They’ll always have the darts at Christmas, but still.

It also makes you wonder about Guardiola, and how he gets his kicks. Obviously, he’s scratching a living doing what he does, but where’s the fun in winning like this? And yet, it’s sort of how he’s always won, at Barcelona and Bayern Munich: big money, big squad. It’s an old cliché, but you’d love to have seen him take on West Brom during the recent merry-go-round – a real test of his apparent genius. Surely, the teenage Pep, say when he was 13 or 14 years old, didn’t dream of a domination of dullness at, of all places, Manchester City.

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