PEP GUARDIOLA’S remit when he got the Manchester City job was to win the Champions League.
And, on this season’s evidence, he is making massive strides towards that ambition.
I accept it’s too early to get carried away by City’s fantastic run, especially after they won ten in a row at the start of last season and then fell away.
But this current squad seem to have far more of the ingredients you need to sustain a challenge for the Premier League title AND success in Europe.
There is more structure to the club, more belief, and more depth.
And it is amazing how Raheem Sterling continues to looks a totally different player in a City shirt than he does when he plays for England.
That is an example of the Pep effect, and Gareth Southgate needs to work out how to get the best out of him too. But that is another issue.
As far as City are concerned, I fully expect them to go further than any other English side in this year’s Champions League.
I actually fancy them to make the last four, along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG.
If it works out that way, you would hope City get drawn against the French team, because Barcelona and Real’s experience of life at the business end of the competition gives them a massive edge.
They know how to get the job done, and that is something City have to learn. But at least their manager has what it takes on his CV.
I do feel City are going to miss the injured Benjamin Mendy more than people think, especially in terms of what he adds to their attack.
Although they did not seem to miss him too much when they annihilated Stoke at the weekend!
If they maintain that level of performance it is going to take an outstanding team to lower their colours.
And in Kevin de Bruyne they have someone with the ability to prove a match-winner against any opposition.
I fully agree with what Stoke boss Mark Hughes said after his team lost 7-2 to City, that de Bruyne is head and shoulders above any other midfielder in the Premier League at present.
That is an even more glowing tribute when you consider be Bruyne did not score any of City’s seven goals.
But just look at the way his team-mates ran over to him after practically every goal.
I was very impressed last season at the way he got to within two of Thierry Henry’s record number of assists in a Premier League campaign.
Eespecially as City used him in a multitude of different positions.
And as a striker, I would love to have played in the same team as the German star.
He has such great vision and control, such a range of passes, that you know however tight the marking is, if you make a decent run he’ll find you.
The guy is simply world class – both on and off the field.
The other thing I like about him is the way he handled what happened to him after he was rejected by Chelsea, where he never really got a look-in.
He had a lot to prove after that, especially with a £54million price tag hanging around his neck.
But not only has he been a revelation ion the field for City, he has also refused to whinge about what happened to him at Stamford Bridge, or to try to apportion blame.
And when he scored that wonder goal against his old club, there were no over-the-top celebrations like you would have seen from a lot of players.
He seems to respect opponents as well as team-mates, and I really like that.
His personality and his whole demeanour is that of a guy who just wants to get out there and let is football do his talking.
Like I said, class is the first word that comes to mind.
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It will be interesting to see how City handle Napoli on Tuesday because they did not find it that easy to break down Shaktar in their last Champions League game.
They may need to show plenty of patience again, but I fully expect them to get the job done – and to keep on doing that to earn a place in the semis at least.