It might appear extreme given their achievements over recent years but Manchester City are in desperate need of a rebuild. Reports claim the City manager did the same thing last season after the loss to Newcastle United in St. James’ Park.
The Citizens would require a similar run to get close to asserting that a third title win. According to the Daily Mail, the players are not pleased with Guardiola’s tinkering. For instance, the City manager hasn’t picked the exact same starting XI in consecutive matches all season. He has also tweaked the creation on many occasions.
For other teams, six wins from nine is a fantastic return. This is an expensively constructed winning machine.
There should not be a knee jerk response. In the end, teams have bad days at the office earlier. However, there are problems at the Etihad and there have been for some time.
It’s obvious to all that Guardiola is not too convinced by Nicolás Otamendi and John Stones. Injuries have plagued the latter but when fit he will be unconvincing. Aymeric Laporte demands a long-term partner and while Fernandinho does an admirable job there, he is not the exact same player at centre-back because he is when deployed as a defensive midfielder.
In right-back, Kyle Walker is going to be 30 this summer. João Cancelo does not seem to have convinced Guardiola that he is good enough to take over yet. The summer signing was supposed to be an update at right-back but he has made just seven starts this year in the Premier League.
On the left, it’s a similar story. Summer signing Angeliño was loaned out to RB Leipzig whilst Benjamin Mendy has suffered yet another injury-hit season. The Frenchman has made 11 starts, the most in one campaign because the switch to England, but it is Oleksandr Zinchenko, naturally, a midfielder, who was City’s beginning left-back for nearly all the campaign.
Just Laporte and Ederson are undisputed starters in the back five.
Further ahead, the rebuild is not quite as aggressive. Despite this, there’s a whole lot of doubt about the midfield. As great as he is, he does not provide the same type of protection as Fernandinho.
The Brazilian enabled Guardiola to utilize 2 attack-minded midfielders alongside him. That might need to be tweaked moving ahead with Guardiola’s guys looking a bit open when Rodri begins alongside Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.
An heir to the latter can also be on the schedule. Phil Foden was primed for what seems like an eternity but Guardiola has been unwilling to give him moments. He looks the part, but he is an unknown thing within an entire season. If he was to take Silva’s place in the group next year, City would be heading to the 2020/21 campaign using an untried and untested central midfielder, a vital area for them.
They could possibly shift Bernardo Silva to a midfield role but that would imply bedding in still another attacker. A new one is on the cards with Leroy Sané expected to depart for Bayern in the summer. Needing to put in a second forward wouldn’t be perfect for the Citizens.
Then there is the centre-forward position. Sergio Agüero leads the lineup when matched having pushed Gabriel Jesus down the pecking order. The Brazilian has been applied out broad this season to receive minutes under his belt and there is a feeling he is not ruthless enough to succeed in the Argentine hitman.
The 31-year-old has at least another season in him at the very top, but he is 32 when the present campaign ends. City will have to determine what their long-term aims are earlier rather than later if there is not likely to be a substantial drop-off in consistency and quality.
All the top teams have a cycle at the very top. Now they find themselves at a bit of a situation. The summer of 2020 will define the Citizens for many years to come.