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Manchester City’s Pablo Maffeo continues to impress for Girona in La Liga

The Boot Room



It was a historic, first time La Liga match-up between newly promoted Catalan side Girona FC and Real Madrid in La Liga last Sunday.

The Catalan club’s 2–1 victory over the team from Madrid took on further importance considering the current political standoff between Catalonia and the Spanish government.

Such an event could over-awe a young player, but Manchester City loanee, Pablo Maffeo, looked comfortable and calm tackling the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Marcelo in Girona’s shock victory over the reigning Spanish top flight and European champions.

And why shouldn’t Maffeo have looked at ease? He’s a very much talked about defender in La Liga these days.

Once seen as a promising young Academy player at Manchester City, the youngster is more than that, now. His potential is being realised and pundits are regularly speaking positively about him on the weekends.

His epic man-marking job on Lionel Messi earlier in the season was talked about for days after the performance. He is starting to be what many thought he could be – a quality full-back.

Maffeo is quickly developing a reputation as a great tackler as well as an astute attacker, getting himself into smart positions in the final third and executing dangerous crosses and shots towards goal.

He plays as a right wingback for Girona, tirelessly running up and down the wing for the entire ninety minutes.

He is exactly the kind of full-back Pep Guardiola was looking for at the beginning of this season and he is the only Manchester City loanee among the likes of Aleix Garcia, Douglas Luiz, Marlos Moreno and Olarenwaju Kayode to be a regular starter in the team.

In Sunday’s game against Real Madrid, Maffeo provided an assist for Girona’s second goal in the 2–1 victory over the Spanish giants. He also hit the post with a fantastic effort after cutting in from the right wing early in the first half.

The rest of the game saw the 20-year-old thwarting Madrid’s attacks on numerous occasions with effective, well-timed tackles that one would perhaps expect from an older, more experienced defender.

The challenge that Pablo Maffeo’s growing reputation presents for Manchester City is that others clubs are beginning to take notice.

Spanish publication Superdeporte recently made the claim that Valencia is interested in the starlet and also reported that City had recently turned down a bid from FC Koln in Germany.

Maffeo is gaining valuable experience playing for Girona in La Liga, but a player with his potential could learn even more playing for a bigger club.

The problem for City is that their right back position is currently filled by Kyle Walker and Danilo, two expensive players who have been living up to expectations with very good performances in the Premier League. That doesn’t leave any room for Maffeo in the near future.

A young player whose performances against the likes of Messi, Barcelona and Real Madrid are being highly praised could not be faulted if his ambition caused him to be tempted by the other big clubs of Europe.

So, how can Manchester City address this situation? They could try to convince Maffeo to stay at Girona with the promise that in another two or three years he will be brought back to City. However, the player may see that as two or three years of missed opportunities to move on to bigger and better things.

Another option for the near future could be a loan deal to a bigger club or to sell the full-back with a buy-back clause, as City have already done with the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Aaron Mooy and Enes Unal.

Maffeo is getting great experience in La Liga playing top tier football against legends such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. Nonetheless, soon he may not just want to play against legends, but also alongside them.

There is a lot of love among Manchester City fans for this young man and they have been following him with much enthusiasm since his Academy days.

Many wanted to see him playing for the first team, this year. There is, therefore, an expectation that the club must find a way to guarantee him a promising future at the Etihad.

For the moment, fans of Manchester City and sister club Girona FC will continue to enthusiastically follow the young man’s adventures in La Liga, hoping that his current form will provide many more pleasing performances throughout the season.

If his success continues then all eyes will be on City’s management in the summer to see how they satisfy the player’s ambitions as well as the yearning of his fans to see him remain with the club.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.


Has Leroy Sané been wrongfully dropped from Germany’s World Cup squad?

The 22-year-old will not be featuring in Russia.



Leroy Sane
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City winger Leroy Sané has been left out of Germany’s 2018 World Cup squad.

It was today announced that the 22-year-old – who made Joachim Löw’s original 27-man provisional team – did not make the official 23-man tournament squad. This arguably comes as the biggest shock of the squad announcements so far.

Sané made 40 appearances this season in all competitions for City, scoring 14 goals and gaining 19 assists along the way in what was undoubtedly the best season of his career.

His performances and statistics were enough to gain him the Premier League’s ‘Young Player of the Year Award’ for the 2017/18 season, further adding to the surprise of his absence from Löw’s World Cup squad.

Germany’s record in recent tournaments is as unquestionable as the strength and depth they have within their squad. To make the final cut of Löw’s World Cup team is a feat within itself and Sané deserved that accolade this summer.

(Photo by Miguel Medina/Getty Images)

Making the squad at the expense of Sané; Mesut Özil (Arsenal), Sebastian Rudy (Bayern Munich), Julian Draxler (PSG), Mario Gomez (Stuttgart) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig).

Sané has similar attributes to these five players which is why it is difficult to comprehend any argument for the City wingers absence.

With the exception of Leipzig’s Werner, all of the above scored fewer goals last season than Sané and, on top of that, every player also had far fewer assists than the City winger, with the next closest to him being Arsenal’s Özil with 12 (seven behind).

In fact, if you add Rudy, Draxler and Gomez’s assists together (13), you’d still have six fewer than Sane’s. Combine all of the major statistics relevant to an attacking midfielder/forward’s role, Sané is ahead of every name on this list.

It obviously isn’t all about the statistics, however, and when you consider the calibre of attacking teammates Sané had to work with this season, it is understandable why his personal statistics are so high.

However, a World Cup squad should be the 23 best men at that time to represent their country.

When you consider the jaw-dropping football Manchester City played in this record breaking Premier League season – and Sané’s significant impact in that – surely it is inconceivable to think that he is not within the best 23 players of his nation.

It is difficult to second guess an international manager with the record of Joachim Löw. However, compile all of the statistical evidence with the eye test and it is difficult to understand how Leroy Sané will not be representing Germany in Russia this month.

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Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s poor China record should give West Ham cause for concern

The Chilean international looks set to join the Hammers.

Max Cohen



Photo: Getty Images

As Manuel Pellegrini inches closer to being named West Ham United’s new manager, many have applauded the potential appointment of a Premier League-winning boss.

With spells at some of the world’s most successful clubs, the Chilean is certainly an impressive acquisition for the Hammers.

Yet Pellegrini’s most recent coaching assignment has been nothing short of mediocre, a sign that should slightly worry West Ham supporters.

Pellegrini officially left Chinese Super League side Hebei China Fortune on Saturday, after just under two years at the club.

The Chilean was appointed in August 2016 and registered an unspectacular record at the club.

Pellegrini’s first season ended with Hebei in fourth position, yet the club missed out on AFC Champions League qualification by one place.

This year, the team has taken a dramatic step back in the opening months of the season.

(Photo by Geoff Caddick/Getty Images)

Under Pellegrini’s management, Hebei China Fortune currently sit eighth out of the 16-team Chinese Super League.

The side has only picked up just 15 points from 11 matches to date, a disappointing return considering Pellegrini has talents such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hernanes, and Gervinho at his disposal.

As the Chinese Super League is a far less important and internationally relevant league than La Liga or the Premier League, Pellegrini can perhaps be forgiven for not taking his job as seriously as his past assignments at Malaga, Real Madrid, and Manchester City.

Yet, his Chinese struggles are worrying nonetheless, as ideally West Ham supporters would like to be acquiring the services of a manager who enjoyed success at his most recent club.

In all, the ex-Manchester City manager still has a Premier League title to his name, a fact that makes his recent tough spell in Asia less concerning.

Nevertheless, Manuel Pellegrini’s underwhelming time at Hebei China Fortune reveals that the manager still possesses flaws and should not be expected to work immediate wonders at West Ham.

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Manchester City

Record-breaking Manchester City show Pep Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy

The Spaniard won his first Premier League title in swashbuckling style.

Martyn Cooke



Photo: Getty Images

When Pep Guardiola was appointed as manager of Manchester City in the summer of 2016 it is fair to say that his arrival was met with a mixed reaction throughout British football.

First, there was obvious excitement throughout the blue half of Manchester. Guardiola was widely regarded one of the best managers of his generation after trophy-laden spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

He was renowned for the exciting, possession-based style of play that he implemented and the team that he built at the Nou Camp at the start of the twenty-first century produced some of the best football of the modern era.

Then there were the sceptics – and there were plenty of them. The comments were predictable and filled with clichés, unevidenced assumptions and meaningless jargon.

It was suggested that Guardiola had only won trophies with clubs where the race for the title was a two-horse race at best and that he had always inherited world-class players.

Furthermore, it was claimed that the Spaniard’s total-football philosophy would never work in the hustle and bustle of English football.

His technical style of play would come unstuck in the so-called ‘best league in the world’ and would not be effective on a cold, wet Tuesday night at places like Stoke City in front of a tribal, raucous home support.

In his debut season with Manchester City some of the negative predictions appeared to be coming true.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Despite winning all of their opening 10 games of the season under Guardiola, City experienced a poor run of form during the Christmas period that left them trailing their title rivals.

The team were unpredictable and inconsistent during the second half of the campaign and heavy defeats against Everton (4-0) and Leicester City (4-2) left many onlookers wondering if Guardiola had finally been sussed.

The Spaniard never shied away from the critics and he staunchly defended his philosophy despite some poor results and vowed that he would not change his style of play.

City finished the season without a trophy and the sceptics went into the summer proclaiming how they had correctly predicted Guardiola’s failure.

What a difference a year can make.

City’s last-gasp victory against Southampton on the final day of the season rounded off what has been a record-breaking campaign in which Guardiola’s team have swept aside all before them in the Premier League.

The list of achievements is remarkable.

City this season have set new records for most consecutive wins (18), most goals scored (105), most wins (32), most away points won (16), most points (100), the biggest goal difference (+79) and the biggest points gap (19).

Suddenly the sceptics are beginning to look incredibly foolish.

In truth, it is hard to remember a campaign in the modern era where one team has been dominant from start to finish in the way that City have been. Furthermore, not only have the won, but they have won with style.

Guardiola’s playing philosophy has clicked over the last twelve months, undoubtedly aided by effective recruitment during the summer, and the team have played with flair, energy, creativity, pace and innovation.

Opponents, barring perhaps Liverpool, have simply not found any way to combat City’s free-flowing football.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Critics will still point to an early exit in the FA Cup against Wigan Athletic, where City played most of the game with ten men, and defeat in the Champions League to Liverpool, where a poor first half at Anfield effectively ended the tie before it had begun, but the success of Guardiola’s style of play is undoubted.

No one is suggesting that the Spaniard needs to alter his philosophy to meet the demands of the English game anymore.

Instead, it is English football that will need to change in order to meet the challenge of Guardiola’s football revolution.

The concern for other Premier League clubs is that City are threatening to establish themselves as the new dominant force in the domestic game. There is nothing to indicate that Guardiola or the team that he has assembled will be loosening their grip on the Premier League trophy any time soon.

The future is bright. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, John Stones, Leroy Sane, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson are all under the age of 26. This is a group of players that is still improving and will be hitting the peak years of their career over the next half-a-decade.

Manchester City’s success this season is just the start of what could turn into a period of unrivaled dominance, further underlining that Guardiola was right not to change his philosophy.

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