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Pep Guardiola: Roberto De Zerbi could be the perfect replacement for me

Pep Guardiola: Roberto De Zerbi could be the perfect replacement for me

At the end of May, the Amex Stadium had a festive atmosphere. Manchester City fans were busy dreaming that a historic treble was just around the corner after seeing their side win their third consecutive Premier League title.

Brighton secured European football for the first time in their 122-year history and as the three players chatted in the tunnel after the game, they began to agree on what they had achieved so far and Pep Guardiola intervened.

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“This man is the next manager of Manchester City.” The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager spoke as he greeted the small crowd and nodded to Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi as he walked down the tunnel.

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Perhaps the greatest manager of his generation, the Catalan has not been shy about expressing his opinion of De Zervi during the campaign, even hinting that he is ahead of this meeting with the south coast club.

One of the most influential managers of the last 20 years.

 

Now the Brighton players, who have learned a lot in their short time under De Zerbi, have realized that Guardiola’s comments were off the mark.

A 1-1 draw against Guardiola’s reigning champions was a fitting way for manager Graham Potter to end a brilliant season in which he overcame Chelsea’s departure and reached new heights under the energetic Italian coach from Brescia, Lombardy.

 

It remains to be seen whether De Zerbi will actually beat Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, but as he prepares to lead his Brighton side into the Championship at home today, it’s hard to believe he won’t score big in the table.

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Here’s a list of suitors if one of Europe’s other big players doesn’t tempt him by then.

Guardiola is currently contracted to City until the end of next season and the club could still persuade the 52-year-old to sign a fourth contract.

However, De Zerbi is highly respected and appears to have the support of Guardiola, who has compared the Italian’s influence on football to that of respected Catalan chef Ferran Adrià in the culinary world.

It should not be forgotten that Mikel Arteta, Guardiola’s former second-in-command at City, made his name at Arsenal and, unlike De Zervi, has the experience of managing a big club with high expectations, an important factor that cannot be underestimated.

Coach Guardiola praised De Zervi’s tactics.

So, as others will no doubt argue, Brighton’s progress in De Zerby’s 13 months has been remarkable and has attracted the attention of all the top clubs, including City.

To put that impression into some context, Brighton had the most shots on goal (662) and most shots on target (254) of any Premier League team since De Zerby’s tenure and scored the third most goals in that period (82). (dog) has been registered.

In that time, only three of Brighton’s 1,289 teams have had possession and their average possession rate of 61.9% was second only to City.

All this comes after spending relatively little money on the squad, especially by Premier League standards.

 

Guardiola, for one, will be hoping for more success today than he did during Brighton’s trip to Manchester last month.

At this point, City will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat, becoming the first Catalan team to do so. City will at least have Rodri in central midfield, but defeats to Wolves and Arteta’s Arsenal will put further pressure on Brighton, who are already causing enough headaches.

 

De Zervi’s skills were on display at Old Trafford, with the Brighton manager telling his centre-back duo of Louis Dunk and Jan-Paul van Heke to play wider with the goalkeeper after initially struggling with Manchester United’s midfielders.

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Steele will almost certainly be the third center back.

A tactical change turned the game around and Brighton won 3-1 for their fourth straight league win against United.

This despite their squad costing just £17m and De Zerbi signing midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, one of the team’s five free signings on the day.

Brighton’s season did not go well. A 6-1 thrashing of Aston Villa three weeks ago exposed their weaknesses, but De Zerbi will be pleased with their subsequent response in the 2-2 draw with Marseille and the home game against Liverpool.

Earlier in the campaign, they lost 3-1 to West Ham at the Amex.

 

Guardiola is particularly impressed with the way Brighton have developed at the back, which he believes is the best in the world.

However, he also praised De Zerby’s use of the “free man”, particularly his ability to draw opponents in before releasing them, especially when taking his time at a good pace to make decisions correct.

 

Managers around the world have described Guardiola’s teams as a footballing education, but the man himself has not hesitated to admit that he learned a lot from De Zervi.

Who will succeed Guardiola at City?

Only time will tell, but Guardiola will be hoping De Zervi doesn’t make any progress this weekend.

For more updates on Manchester City, please visit the link.

 

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