MANCHESTER, England ( Associated Press) — Pep Guardiola had enough to worry about before Manchester City became involved in arguably the biggest scandal in Premier League history.
Off the field, City face allegations that the club flouted a series of financial rules by squandering money. On the pitch, Guardiola has his own battle to defend the league title and continue the season.
Although City’s position in the standings remains quite healthy – five points behind leaders Arsenal in second – Sunday’s defeat to Tottenham shows that all is not well with the team. That was the situation before the explosive measures taken by the league on Monday.
A sense of malaise and uncertainty has pervaded the team for almost the entire season. Erling Haaland is becoming the point of analysis to find out what is wrong with City.
“Erling has been brilliant. When he scores and wins, nobody says anything. They say, ‘All of a sudden we don’t win and he doesn’t score.’ That’s the problem? What? We play better without him?’ I hear it all the time.”
Walker has a point, but his comments suggest the doubts raised outside the club are starting to haunt the players.
Haaland has been incredible with 31 goals in 27 games. But having a key goal in center has made City more predictable.
In recent years, Guardiola has relied on goals for the whole team, without allowing rival defenses to concentrate on the danger zone. Although City’s mark of 53 goals in 21 games is almost identical to last year at this point in the campaign, it is eight points fewer.
Even with the inclusion of Haaland, City have found it hard to win – they are three wins short of the same point last season.
The problem may not be Holland. After all, his statistics on goal are incredible.
Guardiola is trying to find a way for his team to respond at a point where there is still so much at stake. The departure of Joao Cancelo and the replacement of Kevin De Bruyne seem like drastic attempts to do something, but it also leaves doubt as to what he will do next.
Guardiola is in his seventh campaign with City – he has never stayed at the same club for so long since he began his managerial career. He now has to tackle his most extensive rebuild since joining the club in 2016.