What a privilege it is to watch Manchester City in the age of Pep Guardiola. I can’t recall a club side so lauded so early in the season, but the lavish praise seems justified. Could his Midas touch be young England’s best hope in Russia? Noel Gallagher, yes him, has been speaking about the ‘cosmic’ football City are playing under Pep, and who are we to argue? Guardiola seems to be getting the best out of Stones, Walker and Sterling. These three plus the Tottenham backbone of Kane, Dele Alli and Dier bringing their club form to the national team, along with the young England talent that did so well in the international age-group tournaments, could add up to a thrilling new team. But we have been here before…
As for the rest of the Premier League? I am not so sure. Brighton vs Stoke anyone? That was last Monday. Or any takers for Palace vs Stoke, Newcastle vs Watford or Swansea vs Bournemouth next weekend? A lot of football outside the top six clubs is pretty poor. The clubs are largely foreign-owned, and managed and staffed by overseas mercenaries. Take Watford, a spunky little club punching above its weight thanks to the cash and players pumped in by the Italian Pozzo family. Now Marco Silva, their Portuguese manager, indicates that he wouldn’t mind a bash at managing Everton despite being at Vicarage Road for about 15 minutes. Wasn’t the question of him hanging around for the whole season touched upon when they gave him the job?
This is an extract from Roger Alton’s Spectator Sport column, which appears in this week’s magazine