The most surprising exit from Manchester City during the January transfer window wasn’t Kalvin Phillips being loaned to West Ham, accompanied by Pep Guardiola’s compliments for his dedication on the training ground and the unexpected notion that he might return to the Etihad Stadium.
Instead, it was Omar Berrada’s departure.
Manchester United’s newly appointed chief executive has executed a reverse move akin to Denis Law or Carlos Tevez, switching allegiances from the blue side of Manchester to the red.
His recruitment by the new management under Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been met with widespread acclaim,
with many viewing it as a significant coup for United. While City has historically excelled both on and off the pitch,
there’s a sense that United can glean valuable insights from their rivals, perhaps even poaching their strategies and expertise by acquiring their Chief Operating Officer.
“Undoubtedly, his expertise now benefits United, that’s the reality,” remarked Guardiola.
“We’ve gained immense knowledge from Omar, but it works both ways, and now he’s headed to United.
He’s a remarkable individual: exceptional character, exceptional professionalism.
When I saw him yesterday, we embraced, and I genuinely wished him the best because he’s truly fantastic.”
However, amidst the effusive praise lies a cautionary note. While Berrada’s wealth of experience and credibility will undoubtedly bolster United, his arrival alone may not be sufficient to transform a struggling club into serial winners.
“Perhaps United believes that with his inclusion, everything will change – congratulations to them.
Whether that happens remains to be seen,” pondered Guardiola, emphasizing his point with a snap of his fingers.
“If it does transpire, they should acknowledge Omar Berrada’s contribution in the future because he truly deserves it.”
Guardiola’s observations are particularly astute.
There have been instances where United seemed to seek a quick fix, banking on the likes of Jose Mourinho or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be the solution, or placing undue faith in the transformative power of marquee signings like Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez.
At times, they’ve appeared envious of their neighbors’ success, striving to emulate, outdo, and outshine them.
Yet, their efforts to replicate City’s formula have often fallen short, with some of their acquisitions over the past decade being former City targets, including Sanchez, Harry Maguire, and Fred, with varying degrees of success.
Berrada’s tenure at United will undoubtedly provide invaluable insights into City’s operational framework.
“When you acquire a player from another club, you’re not just getting the player’s skills but also the knowledge they’ve gained from past managers and teammates,” reflected Guardiola.
“That’s to be expected.” However, even with insider knowledge of City’s transfer targets,
Berrada’s challenge in establishing United as Manchester’s dominant force lies in the team he leaves behind, many of whom he played a role in signing.