Manchester City is usually on another level compared to their opponents. That’s all thanks to the mastermind behind this team pet Guardiola. Pep has managed to win important trophies at every club he’s managed.
In fact, just recently, his team completed a domestic treble and in-process became the Premier League champions for the second time in a row, which might have had something to do with him winning the Premier League manager of the Year award. So, what does he do so differently that gives his team the advantage over their opponents more often than not?
Well, the key is in his basic principles, and paradoxically it’s the same basic principles that make City so complicated to play again fittingly, in this article, we’re going to figure out what really sets city apart by first covering the basic principles that form the core of Pep’s philosophy, and then we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty details that expand on those principles and provide a full picture of what goes on inside Pep’s mind. Although to be fair, there aren’t many teams that can match the financial might of Manchester City.
However, Pep still has much to do after taking advantage of those financial resources and that’s exactly what we will be focusing on in this article to begin, we’ll explore peps mindset when his team is in possession as that specifically plays a crucial role in how city operate without the ball. That said, let’s take a look at some of the principles of peps philosophy. 1.
Why Pep Guardiola is Good Manager?
Every player stays positionally disciplined throughout the match. 2. Use the full width of the pitch. 3. The whole team moves as a unit, whether attacking or defending. 4. Maintain as much possession as possible. As you can see, none of this is too complicated and you would expect a considerable number of coaches to share similar principles.
But the key difference that sets pep apart is how he combines these basic principles with his ingenuity for example pep played Zinchenko as an inverted fullback against UnitedIn case you’re wondering, an inverted fullback or falls fullback is a player who during the build-up plays almost as a center midfielder just ahead of the center backs.
This allows the midfielders to venture forward a bit more than usual. Now when you combine this with his principles the results can be devastating for the opposition notice how Zinchenko’s position drags Young out of position. Right after that, David Silva spots Sterling who’s holding his position ready to exploit the space young left behind him.
Pep specifically targeted that side with Zinchenko’s role since young was arguably the weakest link in United’s defense overall the Zinchenko’s role often played a significant part in the city build a play against United. Notice how Zinchenko’s position keeps Rashford inside creating space for Laporte out wide. And if Rashford was to press Laporte outside then either Fernandinho or Zinczenko would exploit the gaps left in the middle to play through United.
There were many more similar instances that I could have included, however, none of this would be possible if Zinchenko wasn’t disciplined enough to follow the plan exactly as Pep wanted him to. Notice how since Zinchenko is not present where he should be David Silva gets trapped and almost loses possession.
Stays back and allows Mahrez
This brings us back to the first principle, every player stays positionally disciplined throughout the match. Meanwhile, the second principle is pretty self-explanatory as using the full width of the page gives the city more space to play with – but it also forces the opposition to make a move, especially in the final third. In this example, the full-back stays back and allows Mahrez to come up uncontested.
Because if he was to close Mahrez down, Bernardo Silva would be left wide open to exploit thewing with David Silva providing another option inside. On the other hand, if the full-back decides to close down the wide player, City can exploit the space in behind in an instant.
Basically, it forces the opposition to stretch out which is bound to create gaps for the city to exploit, among other things. Now, the importance of the third principle cannot be overstated. Pep wants his team to operate as a unit in the offense, as well as in defense, of course, that’s not always possible, and I’ll go over how Pep deals with that once we explore his defensive mindset a bit later in the article.
For now we’refocusing on why pep wants his team to play as a unit whether they attack or defend, with the exemption of counter-attacks of course. So let’s take a look at a few examples. Right after winning possession city look to counter but as soon as it’s clear that it’s a lost cause they slow down until they’re comfortable moving the ball around.
And right after they have it under control the whole team moves up as a unit. Not only does that allow everyone to play closer to each other which of course means the easier distribution of the ball, but it also makes it easier to Gegenpress, which is a key component of pep’sdefensive philosophy. On top of that, they’re really careful to not overextend themselves.
David Silva dispossess Zinchenko
When David Silva finds Zinchenko on left-wing, Zinchenko immediately passes it back to David Silva while dragging the nearby United player who was putting pressure on David Silva. Zinchenko didn’t have to go back as he could have passed it to Sterling with a forward pass, but then City would be limited in terms of further options while United would have had a better chance to dispossess.
Lastly, the fourth principle requires the team to maintain as much possession as possible. This is one of the main reasons why pep wants to build a play to include his goalkeeper. In fact, Pep’s obsession with playing from the back actually encapsulates all four of his principles in a beautiful way. And now that you’re familiar with the principles, let’s dive right into the details.
Pep loves to build up from the back because it provides his team with a distinct advantage that cannot be found anywhere else on the field. In order to create that advantage, pep has a center-back drop back on either side of the goalkeeper, while both fullbacks stay wide by the sidelines on their respective sides with the defensive midfielder in the middle.
This makes it six players for the city in their own third versus potentially five opposition players if the opponent presses high. So it’s safe to say that more often than not the city has a man advantage when they build up from the back. This allows them to play around the initial wave of pressure which is often enough to get them out of their own third.
And every so often if they exploit the gaps quick enough, they can get into advanced positions that they might have not gotten into originally if the opponent didn’t press that high. As you saw, Pep has a very specific set of rules that he expects everyone to follow. His goal is to have the whole team on the same page.
It’s because he knows that even if one player strays away from his plan, the whole system is at risk of falling apart. Pep wants his players to stay in their positions and trust their teammate’s passing abilities because every player has a purpose behind their movement. He does not want his players going out of their way trying to help their teammates because that affects the whole system.
Pep love City players
Notice how Fred’s position could have made it difficult for City to mark everyone while United would have had away out. This is why it’s so crucial to have everyone on the same page. It’s rare to see City players not being on the same page when in the possession and even then it’s still manageable.
The system becomes vulnerable when it happens while his team is defending because the pep style of play basically compels the opposition to play in a counter-attacking fashion for the most part. A quick note before we explore peps defensive mindset, City have spent the most time in opposition’s third and least in their own third.
Having an overwhelming majority of possession in basically every game definitely helps to maintain that. With pep wanting his team moving as a unit, it makes sense why his teams are always playing with such a high line. So, its safe to say that counter-attacks are much more threatening to pep than any other type of play.
Incidentally, that’s one of the reasons why Klopp thanks to his counter-attacking style of play is the only manager with a win percentage over 50% when going against pep. No other manager even comes close to matching this. We will not be focusing on how Klopp achieved this, at least in this article. Maybe some other time.
That said, over the past few years, pep has had a chance to perfect a contingency plan that deals with this exact issue of counter-attacks. And I would say that the plan has been pretty effective, considering the city did not consider the goal from a counter-attack in the Premier League throughout the whole season. So, let’s take a look at what the contingency plan is all about.
The first point of action as soon as they lose the ball is to Gegenpress press and try to regain possession. Notice how quickly the city cut out any nearby options while closing down the player on the ball. If the opponent manages to play through the press, they will most likely try to go towards the wings. This is due to Topps’s persistence on his fullbacks being significantly advanced on their respective wings.
And so city’s priority switch to isolating the player on thewing as soon as a pass has made out wide. This usually slows down the counter-attack which gives them some time to get back in shape, but not always. It’s really difficult for the city to slow down the play during a counter if the opponent is able to move the ball quickly.
That’s why if there’s any indication that the opponent has a good opportunity to counter pep wants his team to do whatever it takes to stop the attack before it’s too late. when Gegenpressing or isolating a player on the wing is not enough, Pep is left with only one option, tactical foul. Now I know Pep tried to distance himself from this, but it’s actually an integral part of his contingency plan so I can’t skip it.
Chelsea and Liverpool
Hear me out, I’m aware there are statistics that show that City doesn’t commit that many fouls compared to other teams in the Premier League – and according to those same statistics, their fouls per game is one of the lowest in the league, along with Chelsea and Liverpool. However, those statistics don’t take into account how little time the opposition has the ball throughout the whole match.
Notice the significant difference between city spending time without the ball compared to Chelsea and Liverpool. Also, notice how there’s a bigger difference between first and second position than any other two consecutive positions throughout the whole league. It’s clear that City is an outlier when it comes to possession.
So, when you look at how often city fouls compared to how much time they actually spend without the ball, it becomes clear that the city is one of the worst offenders in the PremierLeague by a huge margin. And it goes under the radar because Pep is smart about it. The thing with tactical fouls is that you cannot do it regularly and especially close to your own box because that will result in a booking almost every time.
To get around that issue Pep tasks his wide offensive players to pursue the player on the ball and bring him down by force, if necessary. This is why Sterling, Bernardo Silva, and David Silva are 2nd, 3rd, and 4threspectively in terms of most fouls committed by a city player this season.
Essentially, City is content with committing a foul high up-field which usually gives them enough time to get back in shape. But if they’re not able to stop the counter, Fernandinho is tasked to step in and do whatever is necessary before it gets out of their hands.
Usually, it’s stuff like him going by the sidelines to cover for a player out of position, but every now and then he has no other option but to commit a tactical foul if he wants to stop that attack. No wonder why he tops the list of most fouls committed by a city player this season. All this makes it so the opponent has to pass through so many barriers before they even get into the final third.
On top of that, if the opponent tries to explore the high line with a ball over the top, Ederson – as a sweeper-keeper is often able to intercept and handle the situation. For time sake, I won’t be getting into how City defend against open play attacks. In case you’re curious, I have gone with that in my previous articles on Manchester City. There’s not much more to Pep’s defensive mindset – other than all that.
That said, now that we have a decent grasp on Pep’s philosophy, I’m sure most of you have figured it out by now. Those basic principles we discussed earlier are essentially the building blocks for every pep Guardiola team. On top of that, they actively play a vital role in every tweak made by pep to adapt as tactics to better fit the opposition.
So, let’s explore how he built upon those principles which make his team so tricky to play against. One of the most important things for pep is to create overloads in specific parts of the field. That usually provides his team with an easy route to play through the opponent’s shape. To make that possible in the first place pep has two of his midfielders play a unique role, with his center forward playing as a false-9.
David Silva is usually one of the midfielders playing the unique role, the other midfielder spot depends on what pep has in mind for the opposition – so it could be either De Bruyne or Bernardo Silva. And if Bernardo plays on the right-wing, Gundogan can also take his place in the midfield.
Now, let’s talk a bit about that unique role I mentioned earlier. Both midfielders are mostly free to roam around but are tasked to stay near their half-space until they get into the opponent’s half, then they’re supposed to get involved on a regular basis as they move around with the ball.
Meanwhile, the center forwards false-9 role requires him to drop deep into the midfield and assist in the build-up, as opposed to staying by the defensive line. This puts the opposition in a situation where no matter what they do at least one city player is always left open. David Silva in half-space occupies Sissoko but Mendy being uncontested when receiving a pass drags the marker away.
Meanwhile, Aguero’s false-9 role allows for a pass upfield. City essentially created a triangle with Sissoko in between, so Mendy could have gone to either player who would have been able to find each other afterward as well. Basically, midfielders along with the false-9 are responsible for disrupting the opponent’s shape – which they do either through their movement Orby creating overloads that usually target the wide areas.
Let’s take a look at midfielders using their movement to disrupt opponent shape. Fernandinho is limited considering United’s forwards are right on him a few seconds later we can see that Fred has to cut out the passing lane to agüero while marking.
David Scylla David silva also figures that out so he nonchalantly drops into the gap between named guard and Fred with no intention to play through united just yet this causes linger to close him down since Fred was concerned with cutting passing lane to agüero and now that lingers out of the way for Nandini Oh has plenty of time and space to move the ball around city’s build a play is a constant barrage of plays like these until they reach the final third that is where the offensive players gain even more freedom notice how city’s whole offense is pretty much compressed on the right-wing let’s take a closer look because there’s a lot going on in that part of the field bug buzz making walker and goon Dawuan but since.
Walker goes up and contested baba has to go to him meanwhile agüero comes inside and with no one to mark him Fred can not worry about gun Dhawan and is tracked to the center forward now United have all of their players occupied while City have two players left open because his team can get so compressed Pett prefers to have a Pacey winger play on the left the winger on the far side usually stays near the sideline because as we all know by now.
Pep wants player and half-year
Pep wants to use the full width of the page this is so important to him because by just having a player stay in the half-space while city switch to the other side they can put the opponent’s fullback in alose-lose situation either the full-back tries to close down the winger but will leave a huge gap for the player and half-space to exploit or take care of the player and half-space.
But leave the winger wide open on the wing in fact city actually scored their second goal through the same tactic that allowed them to score their first I hope it’s clear how pep manages to have his team’s play beautiful football on a regular basis for starters the intricate movement and passing can be attributed to being on the same page and following the same principles in the following example there isn’t anything too complicated going on just teammates playing in tandem with each other.
David Silva makes a run and drags one llama away from the midfield in process meanwhile agüero sees an opening and exploits the newly created space however the complicated stuff we discussed earlier definitely helps pep stand out from the rest his greatest strength comes from the cohesion of his tactics along with his principles that he’s so dependent on but there are a few well reasons.
Why he deserves to be criticized first of all Pep hasn’t been able to meet expectations in the Champions League ever since he took over a treble-winning Bayern münich from your pangas on top of that it’s disappointing foremost people I’m sure for Pep as well to not see City perform like.
They’re expected to you especially after investing so much in top players besides dad he can be criticized for his over-reliance on tactical fouls but looking at it from a different perspective he’s just using everything at his disposal to give his side an advantage and honestly.
I can’t really blame him for that if anyone’s to blame it’s the referees and people behind the scene with the power to change rules surrounding the controversial aspect of this sport as a fan of this beautiful game I don’t like to see tactical fouls or dives for that matter but as a student of this sport appreciate pep for doing everything he can to win.
I just don’t appreciate him feigning ignorance and lying with a straight face but I’d probably do the same considering the backlash one can get if not outright denied so Who am Ito talk that said I feel like there’s a lot of information in this article to digest in one sitting but I wanted this article to be the only thing anyone needs to refer to if they want to understand patch tactical mindset so you might have to read it.
A few times before you know the ins and outs of paps tactics I would just like to say that if you enjoyed the article feel free to express your support in whatever way you feel most comfortable with sharing it anywhere helps the most I’ll be leaving a comment down below for whoever wants more details regarding the future of our website because I don’t want to make this article any longer than it has to be you.
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