Pep Guardiola Is In Danger Of Having His Worst (Style) Season Ever

On the slippery slope of dressing for comfort

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It starts with a casual jacket.

Early autumn in his second season in the Premier League, football's most successful modern manager stalks the touchline as he always has done: skittish and peripatetic, gesticulating secret commands and muttering silent curses as his players act out a savant vision on laser-cut grass.

It's taken a year, but Pep Guardiola's billion-pound blueprint is finally being realised. Raheem Sterling is finishing chances, John Stones has stopped trying to be Zidane in his own penalty area and Claudio Bravo is sat safely on the bench. Manchester City are the most in-form team in Europe and yet something feels... off.

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Why is Pep Guardiola wearing a hoodie and skinny jeans?

Over the course of a decorated managerial career that requires little by way of validation (he wins... a lot), Guardiola's personal style has, despite subtle shifts, been a consistent reflection of the man: smart, contemporary, serious.

Phases have included Three-Piece Pep with a fading crown during his early Barcelona days, before moving on to Shiny Dome and Cardigan Pep (circa rampant 2011) and then on to Bavarian Pep, all cashmere jumpers, dark overcoats and melton wool scarves tossed artfully across slight shoulders as his Bayern juggernauts rolled all in their wake.

Smart Pep

Now, though, now we are witnessing Guardiola's move into a fourth and potentially disastrous fashion phase. One that was first glimpsed beneath the floodlights of the Etihad this autumn and could be a signal of the 46-year-old's first move towards the Tony Pulis school of Angry P.E Teacher aesthetic.

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Expensively Casual Pep.

"What are you talking about? He looks great?" you might cry and we'd agree with you... for now. But the loss of a man's style is a pernicious process. First you're buying some Rick Owens high-tops and a Stone Island jacket; the next you're going to sleep in white socks and refusing to wear anything that doesn't have a zip.

This wouldn't be the first time that a stylish young European manager fell foul to the Sportsdirect voodoo of the Premier League. You might recall a certain early Chelsea Jose Mourinho looking very smart in charcoal tailoring, before the media pressure, fickle fans and referee conspiracy theories melted his brain and turned him into a skew-eyed, gilet-wearing husk of a cosmopolitan dresser.

And let us not forget Arsene Wenger, the sharp-shouldered professor of ze beautiful game whose soul and style died along with Theo Walcott's youthful promise, a pickled brain in a giant sleeping bag coat being wheeled around the Emirates by Steve Bould, whispering: "Young players need freedom. Young players need freedom. Young players need freedom."

He was well-dressed once.

They were all well-dressed once.

Pep Guardiola is, in all likelihood, many years and conspiratorial glasses of Pino Grigio away from looking like Sam Allardyce in a puffer jacket on the touchline. But with every snatched 2-1 victory and 5-1 domination exacted by City this season, it seems like the sharp suits are giving way for bomber jackets, the wool flannel trousers for skinny jeans, the managerial equivalent of not washing your jumper because you're married now and your partner likes you for who you are.

So why not dress a bit more... comfortably?

In a league devoid of any real style (Ok, Pochettino knows how to wear a scarf and Conte isn't the worst) Guardiola represents a higher ideal: the elite manager blessing us with his continental presence and Cruyffian vision, a genius intensity that is made more potent through exact body language and the meticulous manner of his dressing. An aura that is dulled somewhat in his current haze of Athleisure and trendy trainers.

So please: save your season while you still can, Pep. Leave the hoodies at home.