Pep Guardiola will pause for thought during the World Cup break to consider his future… the Man City boss is jetting to meet the board in Abu Dhabi as he debates whether to extend stay at the club beyond next summer
- Pep Guardiola’s contract at Manchester City is set to expire next summer
- The Spanish boss is set to use the World Cup break to ponder his future
- He will use this time to decide whether to extend his deal or walk away
Should I stay or should I go now? As your eyes turn to the greatest show on earth, Pep Guardiola will use the World Cup break to do just that.
With his Manchester City future uncertain and his current contract expiring this summer, many inside the club view this month as the critical period in which he will make up his mind.
The Catalan is set to jet off to Abu Dhabi, where he will hold meetings with City’s top brass to inform them of his future plans.
Pep Guardiola is expected to make a decision on his Man City future during the World Cup
He will keep one eye on Qatar — the sport-obsessed Guardiola never truly switches off — but he will use the time to relax with family, drink red wine and be clear about his next move.
No period will influence that decision greater than the 10 days just gone. The key to his renewal is seeing a hunger to succeed in his players, and whether he can motivate them to improve.
He won’t gauge that from blockbuster games against Liverpool or Manchester United — they can motivate themselves for those —but instead in run-of-the-mill home clashes against Fulham or Brentford, especially when faced with adversity such as red cards and falling a goal behind.
City battled like never before as they beat Fulham with 10 men in their previous home game. Guardiola described it as one of their best wins under him.
He is set to hold meeting with City’s board in Abu Dhabi during the tournament in Qatar
But in this defeat by Brentford they showed the opposite. Second to loose balls, they ran out of ideas in possession and some players seemed disinterested.
Erling Haaland looked unfit, nothing Kevin De Bruyne tried came off and three of the back four — John Stones aside — put in arguably their worst performance of the season.
The game was crying out for Jack Grealish but he remained on the bench despite a stellar midweek display against Chelsea. In-form Julian Alvarez came on as a late substitute, while the leap of Nathan Ake — absent due to his wife giving birth — was missed.
It leaves City five points adrift of Arsenal and Guardiola might feel they are struggling to raise their game without Liverpool pushing them to the brink.
There’s an argument that Haaland’s goals and De Bruyne’s magic are papering over the cracks of a slow start. They rarely blow teams away as they once did. Brentford’s defence was stubborn and City lacked patience. Five points, of course, is nothing. There are 24 games to play and, after this amount of games in 2020-21, City were five points behind Liverpool and ended up 17 points clear of Jugen Klopp’s side and title-winners.
So while there is no need for panic, where will this leave Guardiola’s manic thoughts?
Erling Haaland looked unfit as City slipped to a shock defeat against Brentford on Saturday
‘My staff and I will have time to reflect on what we did well and what to do better,’ he said.
Maybe that extends to the last six years rather than the Brentford match. It leaves the boss with plenty to ponder ahead of that trip to Abu Dhabi.
As for Brentford, there is plenty of reason for Christmas joy, though Thomas Frank knows there are many areas his side can improve. City have lost just 12 league games under Guardiola at the Etihad and a fair proportion of sides have needed a fair slice of luck — or scoring with their only shot — to win there. Not Brentford.
‘The better team won,’ admitted Guardiola (right). The Bees gave City no space, while it is hard to recall a No 9 bully City defenders like Ivan Toney did.
‘People are defined by how they respond to setbacks,’ said Frank, referring to Toney’s World Cup snub. ‘You can either feel sorry for yourself or respond with a top performance.’
Guardiola admitted City deserved to lose as Ivan Toney bagged a brace for the Bees
Toney’s two goals takes him behind just Haaland and Harry Kane in the top scorers chart and it seems ludicrous that he’s not on the plane to Qatar.
Brentford ran 116km against City, while Frank’s gameplan was spot on. Thirty one per cent of their passes were defined as ‘long’ — more than any team in a game this season — and it caused all sorts of problems as midfielders ran beyond City’s small and struggling defenders.
The Bees have taken seven points from the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea but dropped them to Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth, Wolves, Leicester, Everton and Crystal Palace. Clearly something for Frank to work on over the break.
But Brentford are still punching above their weight, as the Dane pointed out: ‘In terms of money and budget, we are a bus stop in Hounslow winning against the best club in the world.’
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