Manchester City might be occupying the second spot on the league table but they are battling a couple of pressing issues the manager of the club Pep Guardiola can not wait to sort out. Though most of such issues are beyond his control, he would not mind trying to find a way around it.
One of such pressing issues is the UEFA ban roaming around the club. The club risk not playing European football in two seasons from next season because they breached UEFA fair play rule in the transfer market and allegedly tempered with their books in order to deceive the European football governing body.
The final hearing on the club’s appeal comes up in weeks time and if the appeal fails, it will mean that even if City ends the season on the second spot, they will not qualify to play in any European club competition from next season.
Besides their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the club has not gotten a replacement for their former captain Vincent Kompany who left the club in June 2019 after 11 fruitful years at City to return to his home country, Belgium. He signed for RSC Anderlecht, the club where he started his football career, as player-manager in July 2019.
Though Manchester City was planning to buy a centre back in his mode this summer the coronavirus pandemic which has greatly affected the revenue of clubs could serve as a huge hindrance to that. The coach of the club, Guardiola admitted that the pandemic would not enable the club to do much in the transfer market this summer.
He also admitted that the club has the best set of players at the attacking positions but the club has other priority which could possibly be the need to buy a defender who can defend, win one-on-one tackles, win aerial duels, and score set pieces like their former captain Kompany.
This season is a proof that they are missing a centre back like Kompany as they have conceded 31 goals in 29 matches unlike in last season where the club won the Premier League after conceding just 23 goals in 38 matches with the heavy presence of Kompany.
“In all the places I was – Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here – if the club says ‘we cannot afford it’, then we cannot afford it”, Guardiola said. “It depends on if people stay. Maybe in these next two months, the team makes a step forward and we decide to continue with the same people.
“We have enough good players up front. Gabriel [Jesus] can play on the left, Phil Foden can play on the left, we have Raheem [Sterling] there. We have big-time players upfront. They are all the time in healthy condition, so they can play quite regularly. We have other priorities maybe.”
As the coach and other “big-time” players are waiting for the verdict of CAS on their appeal, so also are their target players waiting for the outcome of the court case before they surrender their future to the club. Hence, the availability of money alone can not give Pep Guardiola answers to all he needs at City right now.