20 March 2016

What could Iwobi and others achieve under Guardiola?

So. The Alex Iwobi—or should I say Alex I-WHOA-bi—hype-train is loaded up and ready to leave the station. We've queued up for this before only to be disappointed by varying measures. With the apparent fading into oblivion of one Theo Walcott, and the melting away of the mercurial Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the insurgency of another Alex offers tantalizing if not Sisyphean delights. At a risk of proffering delights even more unearthly, what would the likes of Iwobi or Bellerín, not to mention Alexis or Özil, achieve under the managerial mastery of a certain Spanish manager? He's been promised a sinecure in the Mancunian area, but with those Myrmidons squandering any chance of a Champions League appearance, might Guardiola jettison that jaunt in favour of a London lark?

Think about it. Pep Guardiola has spent every single season of his professional managerial career in the Champions League. When the "confirmed" rumours of his signing a contract with Manchester City, they were, after all, primed to make a run towards the Prem title, were fresh of an 0-4 thrashing of Aston Villa in the FA Cup, and looked ready to advance deep in the Champions League as well. Since Guardiola's signing, Man City were themselves thrashed 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup, denying them that route to Champions League qualification. They have little to no chance of conquering PSG over two legs, not without Kompany, Otamendi, or Hart available. Perhaps worse, their Prem form has been abysmal—they've lost four of seven since the announcement, three of those at the Etihad no less, with only one win and that over Aston Villa. Last I checked, my own grandmother could snatch three points against the Villans, and she's been dead since 2003, God rest her soul.

In short, for as much as we at Arsenal are gnashing teeth and rending garments, we're still four points clear of Man City. They found a way to get outscored by Man U, and they're clinging desperately to fourth position with Man U and West Ham nipping at their heels. Should they fail to seal the deal, hwo outlandish would it be to believe that (a) Guardiola has a clause stipulating that he'll only come to Manchester City if they're in the Champions League or (b) he simply backs out of whatever "contract" he's rumoured to have signed?

I know what this looks like. Trust me. We ourselves are emerging from our own dark place, and so maybe it's a bit too early to wallow in the misery of others. Face facts, though. This squad, despite the failings of Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U, and Man City, to varying degrees, has barely been able to cling to a top-four position. The butchers have been sharpening their knives for some time, and only a comfy win at Goodison Park convinced them to re-sheathe. Still, it's growing harder and harder to envision a future under Arsène's reign—not when a talent such as Guardiola might be available again. Those baying for Arsène's abdication haven't had many answers for who would be a suitable successor, but Guardiola surely fits the bill. 

Imagine for a moment that Man City doesn't qualify by hook or crook. Guardiola backs out. Elsewhere, Arsenal fails to win the Prem and Arsène steps down. Assuming we do finish in the top three, is it crazy to think that Guardiola comes to London? His family clearly prefers it. He'd have a squad on the verge of legitimate contention and in clear need of a new vision. He may not have the transfer-budget he'd have at Man City, but he'd have a nucleus that needs only one or two additions to again surpass that squad. Add in the inspiration to the likes of impressionable youngsters like Iwobi, Welbeck, and Bellerín; or the likes of hungry veterans like Alexis, Özil, and Čech; and you've got a magical mix the likes of which would not only win the Prem and more but do so in a way that reaffirms a manager's reputation in a way that managing Man City just can't do.

That's just crazy enough to make sense.