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Pol Ballus Manchester Uniteds plot twistand Guardiolasuccesa

admin 2022-06-13

In December 2015, I called my boss and asked for an emergency meeting. It was Monday and a hectic week was coming up but something had happened and I needed to be off work the next day.

After a tough negotiation, my boss agreed to modify the rota. I could have Tuesday off if I clocked in to work early on Saturday and Sunday. I agreed. While we were shaking hands, he tried to find out the reason behind my urgent demand.

A friend just offered me a free ticket to watchManchester CityUnder-19 in a UEFA Youth League game.

Somehow, he didnt fire me straight away. I suppose Christmas was coming and I was going to be reasonably handy putting in countless hours at the bar in Liverpool at the busiest time of the year.

A lot has changed since I worked as a bartender. But one thing has not: the rather irrational thrills I get by watching football matches and telling stories about what happens before, during and after them.

And nowThe Athleticis giving me the chance to tell them to you, our readers, and I cant be more excited.

Im not sure there will ever be a handbook for how a sports journalist should operate. But I genuinely believe the most valuable asset we have is the time our readers spend devouring our work, so my ultimate goal will be not to waste it.

For the last six years, I have worked as the English football correspondent for the Spanish newspaper Diario SPORT. In the last two, I have featured in the pages of The Times newspaper. In between, I co-wrote a book with Spanish journalist and friend Lu Martin, Peps City: The Making of a Superteam.

I have followed every step Manchester City have taken with Pep Guardiola, a time in which records have been broken with the same inevitability of rain pouring over Manchester.

I tried to unfold their defeats and victories, the accusations they have faced and their multiple virtues, to understand how City have been able to provide the arguably best manager in the world with a more comfortable environment than the one he found in his childhood club,Barcelona.

I have written about the plot-twisting life ofManchester Unitedtoo.

I remember covering a dull 0-0 draw at Old Trafford against PSV Eindhoven in theChampions League. It was 2015 and I left the ground wondering what I was supposed to report if the best football in Europe was not going to be happening in Manchester.

Time, of course, proved me wrong: there was still room for Jose Mourinho to enjoy life at the Lowry hotel, for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to find out how lovely a night in Paris can be, and for Rangnick to sign up for a consultancy job that never existed. Thats Manchester United.

Since I switchedSpainfor Manchester,Real Madridhave won four Champions League andLionel Messi left Barcelona.I am not sure they want me back.

In the meantime, Ive tried to put background and context into stories that have involved any Spanish-speaking professional to the English game in recent years. I will keep building on that work withThe Athleticfrom now on, and add to Dermot Corrigans brilliantLa Ligacoverage, too.

At least asking permission to go and watch a reserves game will be less of a problem here.

(Top photo: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

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Pol Ballusis a football writer for The Athletic. Since 2015 he has been an English football correspondent for multiple Spanish media, such as Diario Sport and RAC1 radio station. He has also worked for The Times reporting about Manchester City, Manchester United and Spanish Football. In 2019, he co-wrote the book Peps City: The Making of a Superteam.Follow Pol on Twitter@polballus