“Manchester City have the best manager, striker and team – so why are they so unhappy?” former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher asked the Premier League Champions’ loss at Anfield earlier this month.
It was a fair question. After all, who can forget all those miserable faces in the crowd when City destroyed neighbours Manchester United in the derby?
Or the pain in Erling Haaland’s face as he scored his 22nd goal in just 16 matches.
In all seriousness, you’d struggle to find anyone unhappy at the Etihad right now.
Certainly, the loss to Liverpool hurt, with the club undeniably annoyed by the officiating at Anfield.
But it’s worth remembering that City have just cruised into the knockout stage of the Champions League as group winners and are just two points behind Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
Given they’ve won four titles in five years and boast one of the most exciting young squads in world football, it’s fair to say that life is good for those residing in the blue half of Manchester, and has been for some time.
However, while City supporters aren’t unhappy at the moment, they do have one concern.
Despite Klopp’s contentious claim that nobody can compete with City, the fans know that this period of success is not going to last forever.
Every footballing empire in England has eventually come to end at some point and the quality of City’s rivals means it will happen again.
When is not clear at the moment, with City still the most consistent team in the country, but the supporters are understandably fearful that everything hinges on Pep Guardiola, and a contract that expires at the end of the season.
A brilliant team built in the Catalan coach’s image might collapse without its leader. Not that the City boss sees it that way.
“There will be zero problem [when I leave]; I am 100% convinced,” he said earlier this month.
“They know what the strategy is, what they have to do right now. And the day after tomorrow. And after the world Cup. And next season. And the next season after that.
“When a club depends on one person, you have a problem, as it means that the club is not solid, is not stable.
“The foundations of the club are built by many people. If the club just depended on me, it would mean that we have not done a very good job in this period.”
Guardiola may well be right about City’s bright future without him, but there won’t be many keen to test that theory until its absolute necessary.
Asked again ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leicester whether he had agreed a new deal, he simply said: “Not yet.”
This, of course, is the longest reign of his coaching career but there is still every chance that he could extend his stay into an eighth season.
Remember, it was in November two years ago that the club announced that he had signed a new deal in very similar circumstances, with just over six months left on his previous contract.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in the summer that he would put no pressure on getting Guardiola to extend his stay at the Etihad, and that talks “will be had at the right time, at the right pace, and with the pace, time and framework that works for Pep.”
With the Premier League on hold for six weeks for the Qatar World Cup, that would seem a natural period for Guardiola to decide his future.
There are plenty of reasons to stay, of course. An evolving squad with talented youngsters such as Phil Foden and Erling Haaland arguably has the potential to become the best of his City tenure.
But until he signs on the dotted line, the speculation will continue and nervous City fans will keep trying to read into every single word that comes out of Guardiola’s mouth.
“I wouldn’t change my life here one second,” he said at the start of the season. “It’s seven seasons already. We spoke with the club. Middle of the season, end of the season, we will talk again about how we feel and decide what’s best for the club.
“I said many times that, if they want it, I’d like to stay longer. But, at the same time, I have to be sure.”
City fans will do their utmost to convince him. Because despite what Carragher says, the only thing that could make them truly unhappy right now, is Guardiola’s departure. Source: goal.com