It was a huge relief for Pep Guardiola to see his team win a game and keep a clean sheet. The 1-0 victory over Sheffield United was only Manchester City’s third clean sheet in 13 league games. Compare that to Liverpool who have only conceded once in the last 11 league outings, while winning all the matches and it becomes clear why the Anfield side may have already won the Premier League so early in the day. Manchester City and the opposition as a whole has just not been good enough.
Guardiola was unhappy with the 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace last weekend. The game brought up an all too familiar problem this season. The team has too often left the back door open during matches. Despite being the best scoring side in the league, the team finds itself with an almost impossible chance of catching Liverpool in the title race.
As a result, the manager has decided to make changes to the team in the summer. He fired a stern warning to his players ahead of the Sheffield United clash. He told the players that their contracts would not guarantee them a place at Manchester City next season. Using himself as a yardstick, he stated that no one will be spared if they are found wanting.
”The players, the performance and at the same time my bosses have one eye to see if I deserve to continue here. In the same way, my eyes have to control my players and how their performance deserves to be here. There is no other solution,” he stated.
”I have an idea of what we need. We speak quite often with the club. There are still four months and it depends on that. We are going to take a decision. Everything is related to the performance, not about the contract we have or what we are.
”We have to take the results – not so much the results, perform your best. For me as a manager being observed and the same for the players. It is what it is here and everywhere.”
It’s clear the Catalan manager is determined to prevent a reoccurrence of the team’s collapse in the title race next term. In fact, having won the league title in the last two campaigns, the team should mount a serious challenge next season.
That will require a series of changes in the squad to beat the competition. Therefore, several players could be on their way in the summer. A key area to focus on will be the defence. The manager will be looking for a top-class center-back to partner Aymeric Laporte for the long-term. The left-back position may also require strengthening as Benjamin Mendy remains prone to injury and regularly battles with fitness issues even when not injured.