Wild celebrations and ‘King Carson’ show harmony in Pep Guardiola’s Man City band of brothers – Dominic Farrell

The improbability of Pep Guardiola managing a happy camp in his sixth successive season at the same football club certainly was not on the Manchester City boss ahead of Tuesday’s trip to face Sporting Lisbon.

“Maybe it is because I am such an easy-going man, it is so easy to work with me. That’s why they create a good environment, ”Guardiola chuckled in response to a follow-up question to his claims that this is the most harmonious City camp he has known since moving to Manchester in 2016.

At that time, you’d have got very long odds on the prospects of Guardiola leading the Blues into the 2022 Champions League knockout stages. After four era-defining years at Barcelona, ​​the famously intense tactician took a 12-month sabbatical.

Within three years, he’d had his fill of Bayern Munich and was on his way to the Etihad Stadium. A footballing operation built to his specifications of him under Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain has certainly played a huge part in Guardiola sticking around, while he has mellowed to an extent despite his self-deprecation of him.

Nevertheless, he insisted most of the credit should go to his players.

“Everyone, between them they fight for every single minute, have a good relationship, respect each other and fight for the position,” he said. “The most difficult thing is that every day they are enemies. They have to fight for one position in the team. They are enemies in a nice sense.

“And after they have to be brothers at the weekend. That mix is ​​not easy.”

That sense of brotherhood and general fun has not been hard to spot at City this season, as the examples below demonstrate.

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Resurgent Raheem

Raheem Sterling being back in the goals after a prolonged slump is one of the feel-good factors of the campaign at City. It had felt like the England star was in the sort of rut he would only escape by leaving for new pastures.

In some respects, this feels like bonus time with one of the club’s most popular modern players. When Sterling ended 12 club games without a goal against Club Brugge in November, it was noticeable how his straightforward tap-in brought the biggest cheers of the night from the stands as he was enveloped by every member of the team – colleagues desperate to see him turn the corner.

Saturday’s hat-trick at Norwich City took Sterling to 10 goals since that breakthrough moment. Mission accomplished.

Raheem Sterling netted a hat-trick for Man City against Norwich.

Rustling Rodri

City tended to win most games and deservedly so, meaning there was a particular novelty to the scrappy, gusty and rather fortunate 2-1 win over Arsenal on New Year’s Day.

Rodri was the unlikely matchwinner deep into stoppage time and the most mild-mannered member of the team became a bit of an animal – looking more like a man with an ASBO rather than a business degree.

His colleagues followed as he peeled off his shirt and provocatively knee slid in front of the home fans, soaking up a hail of expletives and bog roll. It was a moment of collective defiance

King Carson

One member of the squad who need never be the sort of “enemy” Guardiola eluded to is Scott Carson.

Cast permanently in the role of fun older brother, the third choice goalkeeper a key ingredient in the glue that holds the dressing room together. He is also the king of small-sided training games, with Ruben Dias selecting him ahead of Ederson in his dream line-up.

“Eddy is in my heart, but I will go with Scott Carson,” he said. “He is a champion of the five-a-sides. Whenever you are on his team, you win, so I will take him.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Manchester City's Scott Carson, Romeo Lavia, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, Rúben Dias, Phil Foden, João Cancelo and Bernardo Silva in action during training at Manchester City Football Academy on February 2, 2022 in Manchester, England.
Scott Carson is Ruben Dias’ go-to man when it comes to five-a-side

Stop that, I cancel!

Before the Sporting game, Cancelo spoke at length about how his dedication to his craft and improved tactical understanding had helped him to survive and thrive under Guardiola.

While that’s unquestionably true, one if the biggest indications of him and City having a whale of a time is the Portugal full-back pinging passes all over the place with the outside of his right foot.

It’s always a glorious sight, not least when it least to moments such as Sterling’s wonderful half-volleyed opener against Everton last November.

beautiful bernard

Talking of glorious sights from Portugal internationals, it doesn’t get any better than Bernardo Silva’s outrageous volley against Aston Villa.

Bernardo was eyeing a move away from City last summer and his revitalized performances speak well of the harmony nurtured within Guardiola’s squad.

From Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez’s intricate build-up in their own penalty area, to Fernandinho’s crisp throughball and Gabriel Jesus’ measured cross, everything about the goal was perfect. Even before Bernardo lashed gleefully home, City’s band of brothers made all those hours as enemies on the training pitch count.

Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.

Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.

Follow our team on Twitter (@DomFarrell1986 and @alex_brotherton)!

Prem soon eat

The emergence of the next batch of outstanding academy talents has also enhanced the feel-good factor at City.

As Guardiola is often at pains to point out, the likes of James McAtee, Liam Delap and Kayky are essential when it comes to keeping the high standard in training for the seniors day-in, day-out. It was great to see all three get on against Norwich when Delap won a penalty.

Cole Palmer is currently sidelined, but has proven to be the pick of the bunch with fine goals in the Carabao Cup, Champions League and the FA Cup – after which he gave the most Mancunian and hilarious interview of the season.

What are your favorite moments of City’s season so far? Follow City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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