Irealise I’m committing football blasphemy here, but Pep Guardiola really irritates me.
Sure his Manchester City side play some delightful football, but no better than that produced by Liverpool with Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, or Arsenal with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, no matter what people with a limited memory recall try and tell you.
City are 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League which would ordinarily be a cause for great joy and celebration for all connected with the club, but Guardiola is still too often pre-occupied with whinging and sulking if he doesn’t get his way.
He can come across as an attention-seeking prima donna. He knows cameras will be trained on him when he walks onto the pitch after the game to hold an animated conversation with an opposition player (Nathan Redmond, Southampton) about matters that are nothing to do with him.
He knows the world is watching when he calls Raheem Sterling over to the side of the pitch so he can kiss him on the head. It’s bizarre behaviour, but it’s indulged because the country is conducting a love affair with a man attracted to the Premier League by barrels of oil money.
I’m sure the reaction of ass-kissing media folk (Match of the Day presenters and pundits are the worst culprits) would be far less positive if Jose Mourinho started snogging Romelu Lukaku during matches or verbally hammering opponents straight after games.
Guardiola’s latest wheeze is to complain incessantly about the lack of protection his ball-hogging superstars receive from our admittedly pretty useless officials. Ah good idea, just pile more pressure on a set of people already struggling to cope with cheats, VAR and an offside law that becomes more bonkers by the week.
Guardiola has a point about the fouling though. Leroy Sane was kicked out of an FA Cup tie at Cardiff by a dreadful challenge and West Brom players were guilty of some shocking assaults last week.
But in that latter game City’s Fernandinho was lucky to stay on the field after stamping on an opponent while David Silva committed the sort of tackle that would have prompted Guardiola into an arm-spinning rage on the touchline if it had been carried out on his silky Spaniard. Embarrassingly those challenges were swept under the carpet in comparison to the fuss about West Brom’s misbehaviour. I don’t even remember Guardiola being questioned about them.
And I’m sure Guardiola was making a statement to Premier League chiefs by naming just six substitutes for last weekend’s draw at Burnley.
That’s right the richest club in the country, one with a vast first-team squad and a huge Academy project, couldn’t find 18 players for a match live on the TV.
Are we supposed to feel sorry for a manager who has almost achieved his ambition of buying another top-flight title?