“A healthy dressing room is worth over 100 hours of tactics,” said Spain and Real Madrid legend Vicente del Bosque. Country in 2014.

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Del Bosque, who won the World Cup and the Champions League in his career, knew something about the victory. But the same goes for Manchester City boss Josep Guardiola and as he prepares to defend his Premier League title next season he will be thinking about Del Bosque’s words.

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It is possible that by the start of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, Guardiola will lose striker Gabriel Jesus and winger Raheem Sterling to domestic rivals. Arsenal, run by former City aide Mikel Arteta, are closing a deal to sign Jesus, sources told Sportzshala, with new Chelsea owner Todd Boly making Sterling his top target.

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Guardiola will agree that keeping teams so close to home is not ideal, but as with Del Bosque, dressing room harmony is paramount. Jesus and Sterling have a year left on their contracts and would like to play more regularly than they have recently. Negotiating an acceptable transfer fee could be a problem, especially with Sterling, but if they wanted to leave and the club received acceptable offers of between £50m and £60m, they would be allowed to leave with Guardiola’s blessing.

For a city manager, nothing is worth sacrificing team harmony; keeping unhappy players is too much of a risk, no matter how good they are. Guardiola was the first to say that his success as a manager at Barcelona, ​​Bayern and City would not have been possible without big budgets and good players, but it is a myth that he is simply accumulating players to make sure he has a deeper team than everyone else. more.

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A study by the CIES Football Observatory in February 2022 found that in the previous 365 days, City had used 28 players in top division domestic matches, and that in Europe’s top five leagues, only West Ham – 27 – had used fewer.

When discussing his City team squad, Guardiola usually tells director of football Tsiki Begiristain that he doesn’t need two world-class players for every position. Instead, he needs a small group of players who can play two or three different positions.

If there are problems during the season, his solution is to ask his team to adapt rather than look for a solution in the transfer market and since taking over Etihad in 2016 he has won trophies with Fabian Delph as an impromptu left protector. and Fernandinho as an emergency centre-back.

City won the Premier League title last season despite regularly playing without a recognized striker. Sergio Aguero left for Barcelona on a free transfer at the end of his contract last summer before City missed out on signing Tottenham’s Harry Kane with the London club demanding a £150m fee. But despite having dealt with the striker’s exhaustion, Guardiola still agreed to let 21-year-old forward Ferran Torres go to Barcelona in January for £46m. This caused surprise both inside and outside the club, but for Guardiola it was not difficult.

“If you want to leave because you are not happy here, you believe that you will be happy elsewhere, you need to leave,” he said then. “A career is short, one day it will end. If he wants to leave, he is absolutely not disappointed. This is his wish, I’m happy for him.”

This summer, the same rule will apply to Jesus and Sterling. However, letting players decide their own future is a policy that comes with risks, and since losing the FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool in April, Guardiola has faced questions about his reliance on a relatively small team as City struggle to win four trophy every season. After a grueling week with two Champions League games against Atlético Madrid and one against Liverpool, Guardiola made seven substitutions for Wembley and his team lost 3-2, but after that he was adamant that he would not ask for more signings .

“I like working with a small cast,” he said. “Fortunately, I have lived in this situation for many years in my life, as I have been at the top clubs – Barcelona, ​​Bayern and now City – and we are entering the last stages, vying for all competitions many times. I learned from this: if you want to fight for victory, you must be in shape. You need 16, 17 or 18 people who must be in shape all the time, otherwise it is difficult to withstand all the competitions and be ready for all they are in the best condition. It’s not an argument, it’s a fact, because I lived it.”

Whether Jesus and Sterling stay at the Etihad Stadium this summer or not, the expectations for City will be greater than ever after the arrival of Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland for £51.2m. City are already favorites to win the Premier League and Champions League before the ball is scored, and that’s without knowing what their final roster might look like. Phillips and also wants to add Brighton left-back Mark Cucurella before the transfer deadline. Although Guardiola will not invite players just like that or overpay.

Del Bosque was convinced that it was the relationships between the players, and not the players themselves, that made a successful team – something Guardiola also believes in.

“A healthy locker room is important,” De Bosque said in 2014 when asked how he manages star squads at Real Madrid and Spain. “It’s good for any business when employees are happy. In football, if the kids are happy, we win.”

Guardiola wants City to smile and win.