In the red corner, interim manager Ralf Rangnick claimed not to know his successor was in the stands for their final season before Erik Ten Hag then refused to agree with Rangnick's assessment of the changes that needed to be made in the squad. Over at the Etihad, CEO Ferran Soriano was giving a lengthy interview to Catalan radio in language that was so similar to Pep Guardiola that the manager may as well have spoken them himself.
One of the primary reasons Guardiola could extend his contract at the Etihad is because of the warmth and support he feels from his bosses. A man who places considerable stock in loyalty is still grateful for the backing he received after his first trophyless season in English football when he was subject to ridicule elsewhere, and is given far more freedom and authority than he enjoyed at either Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
Also read: Erling Haaland jets into Manchester to complete Man City move
That is why, for instance, however frustrated Guardiola was at the failure to sign a No.9 last summer he did not let it boil over into a bigger issue. The manager adapted with the other resources given to him, and a year on City have won the league and are about to welcome one of the most exciting forwards in the game to the Etihad after agreeing a 51m fee with Dortmund for Erling Haaland.
Guardiola gave the impression of a kid in a sweet shop with the deal about to be announced, and despite preferring to focus on the title run-in he could not help but give his view on the transfer in response to some analysis suggesting the Norwegian goal machine may not be compatible with the City juggernaut. The upshot was that Haaland may need some time to settle into a new club and league, but he will score a lot of goals and come to be seen as a success.
Over to Soriano, and the verdict is exactly the same from one of the most important men at the club. As well as defending the finances in the deal by pointing out other top European clubs were ready to pay the same, he told RAC 1: “Haaland will need a period of adjustment and we will have to be patient, but he will succeed.”
Exercising caution on a major deal is something City specialise in, and should take the immediate pressure off the 21-year-old as he finds his feet in a new scenario. And having everyone in agreement at the club over what to expect from the player means that there can be no wires crossed internally. Haaland will either meet club expectations or he won't, reducing the risk of any friction between the decision-makers at City.