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Could this season be the most difficult of the Pep Guardiola era for Manchester City

A rougher schedule and some bad injury luck can swing things.

Chelsea FC v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Manchester City sit top of the Premier League heading into match day 13. But apart from pressure coming from the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham to take over the league crown, the current onslaught on the club by the league governing body and most opposition fans will go a long way in unsettling both the manager and the players as they seek to make more history at the club.

After working so hard to achieve great feats on the pitch of play, ongoing FFP investigations, and crucifixion by public opinion could do severe psychological damage to both the manager and his players.

Even professional football managers and players can be unsettled by the feeling of being considered unworthy of their success, despite working so hard to achieve it. The fact that most teams perform considerably below their best when on away grounds while home teams are usually emboldened when cheered on by the home crowd speaks to just how human we all are.

City players will now step on the pitch especially in away matches with an extra weight on their shoulders. With the club's investigation set to roll on for months and months, if not years, the burden will weigh heavily on the players for a long time.

Normally that shouldn't be the case. Being accused of wrongdoing should not in any way presuppose guilt. But as was the case with UEFA charges years back, public opinion has already pronounced the guilty verdict. City's lawyers now have to prove otherwise.

And even when they do like the UEFA case, many still feel they got away with murder. It's the price the club pays for disrupting the established order. City was late to the party of the big boys. Yet, the club has taken center stage.

To make matters worse, it's tremendous success in the last several years has also been painful to watch for most of the traditional teams, especially when their fans had become used to seeing them dominate the landscape.

The Blues have now become a victim of their own success and must carry their cross. No one wants to be constantly castigated by others and treated as if they are undeserving of their success.

Although the team has weathered this storm in the past and carried on as if nothing wrong was going on, there's so much anyone can take before reaching a breaking point. A dampening of the mood in the dressing room or lack of motivation on the pitch is all it will take for things to go awfully wrong.

Pep Guardiola has previously stated that the moment he feels he cannot achieve any more success with the team he will quit. Keeping the players motivated and firing on all cylinders in the midst of all the negativity surrounding the club will prove a huge task for the Catalan boss moving forward.

That could require doing much more than was needed in previous seasons. But the City manager has always maintained that achieving success in England is very difficult, even under normal circumstances. It will be more so in the coming weeks and months as the club undergoes trial on and off the pitch.