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Ex-Pep Guardiola assistant Domenec Torrent sees 'special' things ahead for Man City

NEW YORK -- It's been a special few days in New York for Pep Guardiola, returning to the city where he spent a 12-month sabbatical with his family in 2012. While his focus steadfastly remains on preparing a truncated Manchester City squad for the new season, there has been the opportunity to see old friends and visit familiar haunts. "The city is taller and higher than six years, but it remains fantastic," he said.

His present home of Manchester currently only has one skyscraper and that one wouldn't come close to breaking into Manhattan's 100 tallest buildings. But former assistant Domenec Torrent, among those reunited with the City manager this week, says he's loving life in the city and what is happening across the pond with the Premier League champions. Guardiola signed a new three-year deal at the end of last season,  and Torrent, who was by his side for his 11-year managerial ride through Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City before moving back into management himself with New York City FC in the summer, believes he's building something special in Manchester.

"He's very happy right now. I don't know the future -- everything can change in football in one second but he is very happy to live there and his relationship with the owners, [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain], [chief executive] Ferran [Soriano] and [chairman] Khaldoon [Al-Mubarak] is amazing. I know he is very happy to live there. Maybe City will be the team Pep is in charge of for longest because he was at Barcelona four years, Bayern three and maybe Manchester five.

"Manchester City right now has a young and quality team. Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling are 21-22 [Sterling is 23], [Aymeric] Laporte and John Stones are 23 [24]. It's a perfect team to improve and try to create something special -- not just in the Premier League but in Europe. For me, it is the right moment as a team to improve and create something like Barcelona 10 years ago or Real Madrid. It's not easy because it's very difficult to win the Champions League and to win back-to-back Premier Leagues because for me it is the most difficult league to win. But it is the right moment to create something special.

"The motivation for Pep is to create something special. I am sure he will try to convince the club and the players they can do it because they have quality to create something special in football -- not just in the Premier League -- and Pep is a special coach. He's a genius for me. Some people say: "Forget it, Pep is able to play good because they have the best players". Okay, I agree but some players play better with Pep as a manager."

Domenec Torrent and Pep Guardiola go back over a decade to their days with Barcelona.
Domenec Torrent and Pep Guardiola go back a decade, and Torrent believes Pep is ready to do something special at City.

Torrent heads back on the training ground with his old boss in the warmth and sunshine at NYCFC's Orangeburg training facility where City have been working double sessions ahead of the new season. The pair looked relaxed, with their individual sides starting to produce success -- Torrent has won four of his first five games with the MLS club, who sit second in the Eastern Conference. It's a long way from the bleak midwinter they were suffering in Manchester 18 months ago when Guardiola ultimately failed to win a trophy at the end of a season for the only time in his managerial career. Torrent revealed that Guardiola grappled with the team's struggles and coping with the counter-attacking style adopted by many English sides.

"It was not easy for Pep. Remember, Pep conceded more goals than ever before," he said. "Barcelona they conceded the fewest, the same in Munich, and then the same last year. When that happened in the first season we spoke a lot about it. We needed to change the transitions a little bit. When we lose the ball it's very important for Pep to press high in five seconds. If you don't win it back within five seconds then make a foul and go back. We had many problems when we lost the ball and the team didn't react quickly enough. We were in trouble during many games.

"The second year we practiced the transitions a lot in training. What happens when you lose the ball? In the first two months every single training session was like that. Lose the ball, react quickly. Attack quickly. We improved a lot in the second year. Many teams in the Premier League use counter-attack. It's very different in Spain. The teams have more control."

Torrent wasn't the only one of Guardiola's backroom staff in the summer linked with a managerial gig, as Mikel Arteta was strongly linked with a move to Arsenal. The former Spain midfielder stayed in the end and Torrent believes he has the qualities to take over from Guardiola or forge his own successful managerial career.

"Mikel is a clever man," he said. "After Pep? Why not? He can train Manchester City, Arsenal or Manchester United -- he is able to become a top coach in the Premier League."

The only issue in Manchester that troubled Guardiola and he might never get used to is the weather. "You have the same jacket and use it in February and the rest of year!" joked Torrent. "The first time we came to Manchester with Pep in July and every day it rained. We were saying "how is this possible?"

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