In football, there's a term that you'll hear practically every week: one game at a time. Nobody looks too far into the future, the inference being. Although it is a lovely statement, the reality is somewhat different. When you have eight days, like Manchester City does, you can't help but think about the context of different matchups, and for managers, the planning for such a time will have begun well in advance.
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City won't win anything between now and next Sunday, but once they've returned from travels to London, Paris, and Merseyside, they'll have a good sense of what the season holds for them - whether they'll be the club to beat or the ones pursuing. This time – Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes, and Liverpool at Anfield – is one in which players may improve their reputations, but I feel it is also a moment in which a manager can establish himself.
Pep Guardiola was hired to Manchester specifically to succeed in these situations. We all know what he's accomplished in the previous five years, but now seems like a good time for him to remind everyone why he's the best in the world, a genius who views football in a new light. He has a history of overthinking things in important games, and Chelsea will have been on his mind for weeks, especially following Thomas Tuchel's three victories over City at Wembley, the Etihad Stadium, and in the Champions League final last season.
When you come up against an opponent who gets the better of you as a player, it stays with you in the back of your mind until the next time you encounter them, and you start asking yourself things like, "Will they do it to me again?" What can I do to put a stop to this? How will I manage if I'm on my own?
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