There are many similarities between Pep Guardiolas Manchester City and Darth Vaders Death Star, not the least of which is the presence of a fatal flaw in each destructive creation
There are many issues with Return of the Jedi, not the least significant of which is the fact that it ends in essentially the same way that A New Hope did. Perhaps there are technical differences between the deficiencies that render the Death Star vulnerable in the two films, but fundamentally, it can be taken out by Rebel fighters landing a single accurate shot. As the X-wings were to Darth Vader, so Teemu Pukki, Todd Cantwell, Ral Jimnez and Adama Traor are to Pep Guardiola. For both Darth and Pep, when it goes wrong, it tends to be for the same reasons.
This is not to suggest Guardiola is inclined to the dark side, or that he is doomed to failure, but just to note that he and Vader share certain characteristics. Both are ambitious technocrats who dream of the creation of an all-conquering machine. Both expend vast amounts of money and expertise in bringing their visions to actuality. Both have created awesome weaponry that can obliterate opponents, whether Alderaan or Watford. Yet both cannot help but leave in their destructive creations a fatal flaw. Bournemouth nearly exploited it. Norwich did and on Sunday, in winning 2-0 at the Etihad, so did Wolves.
Perhaps the flaw is unavoidable. Perhaps it is even necessary for the functioning of the machines attacking capability. But it is there, nonetheless. City will rack up huge numbers of goals. They will dominate sides so utterly that they can keep clean sheets by keeping the ball. But they will always be vulnerable to teams who can beat their press, who can run in behind them, who can make their back four turn, who can make their defenders defend.
A high line lets City control possession and facilitates their attacking might but it always gives opponents a chance. It may even be that that sense of fragility is part of what makes Guardiolas football, at its best and when you leave aside the grim financial underpinning, so appealing: that it feels doomed, ethereal, transient. Perhaps something in Guardiola, even, relishes that sense of jeopardy. Thats the highfalutin explanation. More prosaically, there is Nicols Otamendi.
An issue that was always there for City has been worsened by what increasingly appears the clubs first major recruitment error since the signing of Claudio Bravo. In retrospect, the potential problems in central defence were apparent towards the end of last season. Vincent Kompany played eight of the final 11 games of the league campaign. At the time, the tendency was to regard that as an appropriate farewell for a long-term club captain, and to celebrate how his calmness and authority helped steady any possible nerves among the rest of the squad. While that wasnt untrue, it perhaps was the case that Guardiola had lost faith in John Stones and Otamendi.
The injuries to Aymeric Laporte and, to a lesser extent, Stones, have highlighted the folly of the failure to replace Kompany. Otamendi has been badly exposed. Were it just that he was uncomfortable on the ball and struggled with the requirement to pass the ball out from the back, perhaps it would be possible to work round the shortcoming, but, his confidence shot, he now seems to have lost the ability to perform the defensive aspects of the game as well. His lunge towards Jimnez as the Mexican striker skipped by him in the buildup to Traors first goal was evidence of an extraordinary loss of control.