Should Pep Guardiola Have Left Manchester City After Treble Triumph?

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Manchester City only lost 1-0 on Wednesday but Pep Guardiola’s team were thoroughly outplayed by Aston Villa.

The match statistics made for remarkable reading. City recorded just two shots in the entire game, while Villa had 22 attempts on goal.

City badly missed Rodri, who was suspended and replaced by John Stones in central midfield. City also missed Ilkay Gundogan, who left the Etihad Stadium on a free transfer in the summer.

The champions looked tired and uninspired. For once, so did Guardiola.

City’s sluggishness – they have now failed to win in four straight Premier League games – is perhaps unsurprising considering what was achieved last season when Guardiola’s class of 2022/23 delivered the EPL, FA Cup and Champions League treble.

Perhaps Guardiola should have followed Gundogan and bowed out on a high.

Not for City’s sake. Guardiola is unquestionably still the best man for the job. After all, this is very much his team, created in his image.

But how perfect it would have been for Guardiola to end his body of work at City at the end of a treble-winning campaign.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola pictured kissing his gold medal after his team beat Inter Milan in the 2023 UEFA Champions League final

Timing and knowing when to walk away from a body of work is a big deal to an artist like Guardiola.

Many fans feel that he previously misjudged the timing of his Barcelona exit by 12 months.

Guardiola left the Camp Nou at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, during which Barca were blown away by Real Madrid in La Liga and knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.

Had Guardiola departed at the end of the previous season then he would have walked away on the back of Barca’s La Liga and Champions League double.

Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona for four years. He then spent three years as Bayern Munich manager. He is currently midway through his eighth season as City boss.

The former midfield playmaker is under contract with City until June 2025 after signing a two-year extension in November 2022.

When asked last season if he might consider extending that deal further, he replied: “No, no, no. These two [years] are enough!”

Guardiola is under contract at City until June 2025 and is unlikely to stay beyond then

Guardiola may have missed the chance to end his City reign at the perfect moment because it is highly unlikely that an achievement like the treble will be matched any time soon.

However, City are just two wins away from winning the FIFA Club World Cup.

That would be City’s seventh different trophy of the Guardiola era – after five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, four EFL Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup.

Guardiola has already won the FIFA Club World Cup with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Winning it with City in Jeddah this season could well convince him that his work in Manchester is finally complete.

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