Man City prove they have learned from Man Utd in scary Premier League warning
Manchester City v Leicester City: Pictures
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Pep Guardiola may well have harboured concerns over the impact COVID-19 is having on his Manchester City squad, but he needn’t have worried. The fact is, his City team are better equipped to deal with the chaos caused by the ongoing pandemic than any of their rivals and their frightening strength in depth has been amassed after taking a leaf out of Manchester United’s book.
While the Spaniard may have been absent from City’s FA Cup clash with Swindon Town on Friday night, his side certainly turned up
as they cruised to a 4-1 victory to seal a spot in the competition’s fourth round with ease.
The build-up to the clash had been dominated by the news that 21 members of the City first-team bubble, including Guardiola himself, were forced to isolate as preparations were compromised.
Despite seven players amongst those in quarantine, City made a mere four changes to their starting XI which featured ten international stars alongside the exciting Cole Palmer.
More pertinently, however, was the make-up of City’s bench, which ultimately underlined why the Premier League champions will dominate English football for years to come.
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The experienced duo of Scott Carson and Aymeric Laporte were joined by a plethora of highly-promising City youngsters as onlookers were once again provided with a glimpse into City’s future.
Cieran Slicker, Kayky, Oscar Bobb, CJ Egan-Riley, Luke Mbete, James McAtee and Romeo Lavia completed the matchday squad and are just a selection of the current crop being crafted within the club’s Elite Development Squad.
For City, Guardiola’s appointment came at the perfect time. The world’s best coach taking on arguably the grandest project in world football has seen the club transformed from head to toe.
He made a point of demanding football was played the right way – his way – when he walked through the Etihad doors back in 2016, and the club are now reaping the rewards from the seeds the Spaniard sowed.
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Take Palmer for example. Having nurtured his talent in City’s already-iconic academy, the 19-year-old slots seamlessly into the first-team whenever he’s selected.
In addition to a number of classy touches, Palmer set the City ball rolling on Friday night as he twisted and turned his marker before putting it on a plate for Bernardo Silva to open the scoring. The midfielder then went one better as he curled in a sumptuous strike for City’s fourth.
You could be forgiven for being in awe of the youngster’s impact, but that’s just how they make them in the blue half of Manchester these days.
City have created a conveyor belt of footballing talent and it’s only just getting up and running.
But where did the inspiration for this promising project of investing in youth come from? Rather ironically, it could well have been from City’s Manchester neighbours.
In the early 1990s, it was Sir Alex Ferguson who changed the face of Manchester United, and football in general, as the club placed their unwavering faith in youth and boy did they benefit.
Alan Hansen famously claimed “You can’t win anything with kids,” but Fergie’s Fledglings soon disproved that myth as the Class of ’92 dominated the decade.
With City having replicated that blueprint and Guardiola having provided a modern upgrade, it seems the other half of Manchester are dead set on reigning supreme for many years to come.
And while City’s current crop of wonderkids haven’t won anything of note just yet, the writing is on the wall.
As the first-team reclaimed their Premier League crown last campaign, the club achieved an unprecedented treble as league titles were also secured at U23 and U18 level.
“You have the feeling that we have not just one or two potential players but many of them,” Guardiola excitedly exclaimed earlier in the season. “The academy gives them the right values to become good professional players and they have the talent.
“We have the feeling that we can count on them.”
With coronavirus seemingly more rife than ever before and City one of a number of sides feeling the effects of that, the time for club’s next generation may have arrived, albeit earlier than expected.
The future is bright. And it’s very much blue.
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