Pep Guardiola achieved a first in his managerial career on Wednesday night. As Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of a talented but largely inexperienced Monaco side, it marked the first time since Guardiola became a coach that he's not at least reached the semi-final of Europe's elite club competition.
He didn't just fall one round short, but two, leaving Leicester City as England's sole representative in Friday's draw for the last eight.
On top of that, City are 10 points off the top in the Premier League and have effectively been out of the title race since before Christmas. Only Arsenal's recent struggles and Manchester United's inability to string consistent results together have given them breathing room in the battle for a top four place.
In short, and at face value, it's been a very disappointing first season for Guardiola. City were tipped to sweep all before them from the moment his arrival was announced in February 2016. They were supposed to walk the Premier League, win a domestic cup or two, and seriously challenge in the Champions League as well. The more optimistic fans were actually dreaming of an historic quadruple.
To think that was at all possible was naive and foolish. Guardiola inherited a squad that needed major attention, attention it wasn't suitably given in the summer. He brought in young attacking players but failed to address the real problems. The flaws were masked when City started the season with 10 consecutive wins, but became visible gaping holes before too long.
This summer will require at least three, maybe four, new defenders, a new goalkeeper, a new central midfielder and possibly another versatile forward. It is, in no uncertain terms, a building job, a 'project'. Projects need time, though, so when #PepOut started to gain some traction on social media in the wake of Wednesday's disaster in Monaco it had to be seen to be believed.
#Pepout you Catalan asshole
— Christopher (@wonder_christo) March 15, 2017
Manchester City definitely know how to disappoint me, totally feel let down by Pep Guardiola and the players. Just not acceptable. #PepOut
— Craig Roberts (@CraigRoberts_39) March 15, 2017
What is Pep without Messi?
— #PepOUT (@GetGuardiolaOUT) March 15, 2017
— Denis (@KryManCity) March 15, 2017
How 'fans', even just a minority, could have turned on a man widely hailed as one of the best coaches of all time in less than one season is staggering. He hasn't delivered on expectations, but those expectations were unfair and realistic in the first place.
Considering it was less than 20 years ago that the club was languishing in the third tier of English football and only 10 years ago that Premier League relegation was still a very real threat every season, it's genuinely surprising that City supporters should be so 'Arsenal' about this situation, unless those who want #PepOut only realised that a sky blue Manchester club actually existed some time after 2008...
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