Chris Mepham didn’t know which direction was ahead and which was behind. Not to mention right and left. Your own goal? He will be there somewhere. You can’t blame the Bournemouth FC defender for losing his way against Jérémy Doku.
After a pass from Kyle Walker, Doku had Mepham dancing on the right side of the area in the 33rd minute, changing direction several times and feeding Bernardo Silva with a surgically precise pass, so that the Portuguese only had to slide to tick. It’s 2-0.
Everything Doku tackled against Bournemouth turned into gold. “He was fantastic,” praised coach Pep Guardiola, adding: “But it wasn’t the first time. Since he’s been with us, he’s always been fantastic.”
Pep Guardiola very impressed by Jérémy Doku
Doku passed the laurels to his teammates. “All the players are the best. In this team it is very easy to find the right pass or the right moment to do something,” he said.
The documentary is Manchester City’s new attraction. The Belgian arrived from Stade Rennes in the French Ligue 1 this summer for 60 million euros as a replacement for Riyad Mahrez, who had left for Saudi Arabia. Guardiola remembers Doku’s arrival: “He was shy, almost amazed. But that is completely normal when you arrive at a team as a young player who has just won the treble.”
He advised Doku to be himself. “I told him: ‘Just play, you can do it’. Then he surprised us all. He reads every action exactly the way he should. There’s his quality near the penalty area. It’s incredible how fast he is in the first five meters and how fast he can change your rhythm. I’m very impressed.”
Guardiola calls for competition between Doku and Grealish
At first glance, Doku, who coached at RSC Anderlecht, does not necessarily fit Pep’s younger concept. Precisely in the triple season, Guardiola moved away from the fast, dribbling winger type of player to have even more control in the center and thus highlight the scorer Erling Haaland.
But the documentary was completely convincing. In his nine Premier League games he was in the starting eleven seven times and played mainly on the left wing. Unfortunately for Jack Grealish. The Englishman, who started last season, injured his thigh in the third league game and only played sporadically after a forced two-game break. Grealish sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes twice, and on some occasions it was only enough for short appearances of a maximum of 13 minutes.
Guardiola openly criticized the competition. “I want Jack to be angry. And I want Jérémy to be angry if he hasn’t played two games. It’s the only way to maintain consistency at this level,” he said.
Documentary better than Neymar and Kylian Mbappé
A level with which Doku was recommended to the Rennes Skyblues in recent years. In the spring of 2021, when he was 18 years old, he told the Belgian newspaper “Het Laatste Nieuws”: “The last time I looked at the statistics, he was the best dribbler in Ligue 1. Not bad in a league with Neymar and Mbappé, No?”.
In the 2022/23 season he led Ligue 1 with 3.3 dribbles per game, with a success rate of 67 percent. That’s first in Europe’s top 5 leagues, even ahead of Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr..
Doku is not influenced by failed dribbles. “When I was young I was told I haggled too much. But I didn’t listen. The only advice I can give to young hagglers: ‘Keep going, even if you don’t understand it right away. Don’t do it.’ Don’t hide. A lot depends on the confidence. When I dribble, I know that in half of my attempts I will beat my opponent,” he said.
Doku leaves a lasting impression not only on Manchester City, but also on the national team. After the 2-3 defeat against Belgium in October, Austria coach Ralf Rangnick described Doku as a “fire rocket on two legs”.
Xaver Schlager could only explain Doku’s speed by saying: “He has a moped under his feet. He feels like he’s three km/h faster than any of us. If we have a speed limit of 130, he has 140. He just pulls of the”. The outside is over because he is brutally fast. “You can’t defend that.”
Chris Mepham can tell you a thing or two about this too.