Man City's jarring Champions League final defeat points to summer transfer

By common consent, it seems Pep Guardiola blew Manchester City’s chance to collect a first European Cup.

He got it wrong, of course, but then again, any selection is wrong if you end up getting beaten.

But the fact is too many of his players – although Kyle Walker should certainly be exempt from this – produced flat performances, simple as that. Too many lost individual duels.

Raheem Sterling got no change out of Reece James, Riyad Mahrez had little joy on Ben Chilwell’s flank.

And the entire midfield lost its duel with N’Golo Kante.

Guardiola said he is not ‘clever’ enough to start thinking about next season and he will now try and enjoy a break with his family over the next couple of weeks.

Man City fell short in the final
Man City fell short in the final

He deserves a break but do not think, for one minute, that he won’t be starting his preparations soon.

And do not be surprised if there are more comings and goings than you might think normal for a team that has just won the Premier League in a canter.

They won it a canter without, on the whole, fielding a conventional striker.

The debate has rumbled on as to whether that was down mainly to Guardiola’s genius or whether the shortcomings of others meant they had got away with it.

Proceedings in Porto on Saturday night settled that debate once and for all.

Harry Kane, or even Erling Haaland, will probably be in a City jersey next season.

Guardiola bemoaned the fact that his players manufactured half-chances from getting in behind but not having anyone to arrive and convert cross-box balls.

There’s a solution to that – and he is the England captain.

Harry Kane has been linked with a move to the Etihad
Harry Kane has been linked with a move to the Etihad

While the absence of an attacking focal point was only one of City’s struggles against Chelsea, it was a glaring one.

If Pep had any reservations about Kane fitting into this City set-up, then surely they are gone now.

And a new forward will not be the only arrival.

Bizarre as it may sound – as there are none deeper in European football – the squad that succumbed to Chelsea needs freshening up.

What Guardiola would give for an adventurous but defensively diligent left-sided player such as Chilwell.

Fernandinho is coming to the end of the road and if reinforcements in that area arrived, it would not be a shock.

But even City and Guardiola, with their lavish resources, will have to sell to maintain some sort of balance.

On the evidence of the Champions League Final defeat, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez could all be expendable.

Guardiola will need to tinker not just for financial reasons.

He has to meet the challenge of keeping world-class players happy when they are out of the eleven that start games such as the one in the Estadio do Dragao.

Aymeric Laporte is a prime example.

It is a tricky task most managers would love to be faced with but it is a tricky one all the same.

It is also one Guardiola will embrace.

Because, yes, he will know he, personally, messed up on the grandest stage.

But he will also know that some players were either complacent or unnerved by Chelsea’s intensity.

And if they are to return to European club football’s defining game AND win, that has to change.


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