Pep Guardiola And The Kelechi Iheanacho Issue

Some Nigerian football fans whom I have come across in the course of discussion about the just concluded 2016/2017 season, have been quick to conclude that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a racist and have extended this attitude towards Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho. This conclusion has become rampant since the Spaniard kept Iheanacho as third choice striker on the bench in City.But before we may reach this conclusion it is also imperative we look critically at the past of the Spaniard.

When Guardiola was appointed manager at Barcelona in 2008, the Spaniard revealed that Ronaldinho, Deco, Samuel Eto’o and others were not part of his plans for the coming season. By the time of the announcement, Guardiola had already offloaded full back Gianluca Zambrotta to Milan, attacking midfielder Giovani dos Santos was also affected and moved to Tottenham Hotspur, while midfielder Edmílson moved to Villarreal. Deco went to Chelsea while Ronaldinho joined Zambrotta in Milan. This probably were not actions based on Racism.

Interestingly, Pep Guardiola bought Dani Alves and Seydou Keita from Sevilla to make up his team, before promoting the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez and Jeffrain from youth team to first team squad, while he also called back Gerard Pique from Manchester United. All his actions were probably to get the best, and not necessarily based on Racism.

Upon arrival in Manchester City Pep Guardiola ensured that several players were loaned out of  City to give room for others. To the surprise of everyone, England’s number one goal keeper Joe Hart was affected, as he was loaned to Torino, Samir Nasir to Sevilla, Eliaquim Mangala to Valencia, Wilfred Bony to Stoke City, Bruno Zuculini to Rayo Vallecano to mention but a few, but Kelechi Iheanacho was not affected.

In fact, Pep Guardiola insisted that he would not release Iheanacho for the Rio Olympics games, as he wanted him to be part of his pre-season where he would have ample opportunity to monitor him, but may be Iheanacho is not meeting up with his manager’s expectation of him. Or have we forgotten so soon that the main reason Guardiola offloaded Ronaldinho in Barcelona was to give Messi enough playing time and the result is what we can see today.

Obviously every manager has his expectations of the kind of players that could make his team, and only players who fit into his style of play may get the manager’s nod in the first team squad. And this is probably where self-development comes to play and seems to be lacking in Kelechi Iheanacho, maybe the manager could have noticed this during training session but Kelechi Iheanacho need to prove himself to win the heart of a big manager.

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