Perfectionist Pep Guardiola out of control over China: Neil Humphreys
Manchester City boss must be furious over flight farce
A microwaved egg and Pep Guardiola's bald head have more in common than their smooth appearance.
The slightest touch could cause either to explode.
Manchester City's manager looks close to cracking and understandably so.
He was grounded.
His team couldn't take flight.
An administrative blunder prevented City from flying to China for the start of their pre-season tour.
By the time you read this, the English Premier League champions should have finally arrived in China, but Guardiola will still be a study of repressed rage.
He's a control freak unable to influence the circumstances around him.
He didn't want to fly to China in the first place, and certainly not 2½ weeks before the Community Shield.
Ironically, Guardiola is at his least authoritative when he needs his authority most.
He doesn't determine the location of his pre-season friendlies or co-ordinate the fixtures.
The marketing men take care of that.
Once in Asia, City will play West Ham United and either Newcastle United or Wolverhampton Wanders in China, Kitchee FC in Hong Kong and finally Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan.
Guardiola probably isn't keen on either the venues or the opponents, but this is the brief window in the football calendar when his considerations are less important than those seeking fresh sponsors in Asia's most lucrative markets.
Like his jet-lagged team, he goes where the money goes.
So, it's reasonably easy to guess the current mood of a manager who generates tens of thousands of results in a Google search for "Pep Guardiola" and "meticulous".
This is a fastidious man who once had a heated discussion with City's ground staff over 4mm.
When he arrived in Manchester, he insisted that the grass at the Etihad Stadium should be cut to his exact specifications.
He demanded 19mm.
The same short length that had produced the same slick football at Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
When the ground staff pointed out that Manchester's colder climate required a slightly longer, hardier blade of grass, Guardiola agreed on 23mm and not a millimetre more.
VOLATILE STATE OF MIND
Imagine that man's volatile state of mind when told that the team's plane had been grounded not once, but twice, and most of the media engagements in China had been scrapped and his training plans had to be redrawn in a hurry.
The inside of Guardiola's head must resemble the night sky on New Year's Eve as the clock strikes midnight.
Even though City's plane finally took off last night - at the third time of asking - they will arrive in China barely 24 hours before a friendly against West Ham, who have been in the country for days.
Guardiola wasn't particularly enamoured by the prospect of a pre-season jaunt to China.
Poor weather and erratic planning wreaked havoc on City's previous visit in 2016, when a Manchester Derby in Beijing was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch (it was the rainy season).
The Spaniard seeks every advantage in his preparations.
He'll look in the strangest places to find leverage, anything that might give his squad an edge.
When Guardiola succeeded Manuel Pellegrini, he was made aware of the cliques in the dressing room.
So he played a parent to bitchy teenagers.
He turned off the Wi-Fi around the training ground.
His players would talk to each other, not about each other on mobile phones.
He considers every conceivable angle, sometimes literally.
In a viral clip last year, he was spotted at his press conference straightening reporters' mobile phones until they were all perfectly aligned.
Nothing can be out of place or wonky in his presence.
But City's pre-season preparations have been a bit of both.
They will turn up three days late for a branding exercise that Guardiola doesn't particularly want to be involved with, in a part of the world that he does not wish to be in right now, for a handful of friendlies he does not really want to play.
In a way, City's administrative errors are strangely reassuring.
Even the slickest corporate machines endure the flight and visa delays of the common traveller.
But Guardiola isn't heading for cocktails and a poolside lounger.
He's off to work, and unable to dominate his workplace. It must be driving him up the wall.
The City boss needs to control every aspect of his football environment.
For the next two weeks, however, a foreign environment will pretty much control him.
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