‘It’s my fault,’ Pep Guardiola Champions Revolutionary Erling Haaland Tactics in Passionate Defence of Man City’s Strategy
Pep Guardiola defended his Manchester City tactics and the notion that the Blues do not take enough risks.
Manchester City are playing to their strengths, according to Pep Guardiola, even if that may appear to be a side that isn’t taking enough risks to find Erling Haaland in recent games.
City have only lost once in their last eight games, but have been held by Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig this week, despite having 35 shots on goal in both 1-1 draws. City struggled to get Haaland involved in both games, and were chastised in some places for not taking enough risks, particularly at Leipzig.
Guardiola, on the other hand, thought City should have won 5-0 at Forest, justified his more cautious tactics at Leipzig, and accepted responsibility for Haaland’s quiet week.
“Absolutely the coach [is responsible]. We share our faults together, its nicer,” he said. “We cannot forget we play a lot, years, without a proper striker, Sergio [Aguero], Gabriel [Jesus], false nine. We don’t pay more attention there, now with the one we need a little bit more.
“We need a lot of control, people don’t want to take risks. If you put the ball inside with a lot of players is a risk pass. That’s why it’s my fault, absolutely.
” It’s perspective, if we get the ball and he has seven players with him, I play the ball there [wide]. Now wheres Erling? Six players [on him] – so I play the ball here [wide] instead. If he’s alone I have to play with him.”
When asked if City takes enough risks in those circumstances to find Haaland, Guardiola launched into a lengthy defense, claiming that statistics and scorelines don’t always tell the whole story.
He cited Manchester United’s Europa League battle with Barcelona and last season’s overwhelming Champions League last-16 win at Sporting as instances of games where the losing side wasn’t as dreadful as the subsequent reaction would suggest.
“Look at Barcelona. Can we think that United were good in the second half, not that Barcelona was bad?” he said. “The media in Spain will say it’s bad, the media here will say it’s perfect. One goal, little details. One team is out.
“Last season, in this stage of the Champions League, we won 5-0 in Lisbon. You know what I heard? ‘How bad are Sporting Lisbon, they can’t compete with Manchester City.’ Five shots on target, five goals. Ah, look how good the manager is! This season, we’ve had these chances. Now it was 1-1 in Leipzig, and how disastrous are City?
“How many goals have we scored in the Premier League? We are the best. We score a lot. I never told them not to take a risk. I didn’t want to take a risk in the process, I didn’t want it in that game. I would’ve loved to have won 4-0. It could have been 3-0 in the first half.
“Every time, when I see the adjectives from ex-players about the performances it is not nice. ‘Disgrace’ or other words: how do you say that? We made an incredible high press in the first half but they broke it three or four times. Do you know why? Because they are good. Not because we were wrong with our movements. We had to defend.”
Back to his own club, Guardiola stated that when playing more carefully against opponents like Leipzig, City plays to the strengths of the players available.
“We don’t have players like Leipzig who can run 40 meters. Bernardo, can you? No. Can Gundogan accomplish it? No, “He stated.
“Only Erling, Kyle, and Kevin when he plays. Maybe Jack. What about the rest? No. I didn’t want that in the first leg, so we played accordingly. They were better in the second half because we failed to push effectively.
“The players are human; they remember what occurred against Tottenham and Aston Villa and say to themselves, “Well, I don’t want to make mistakes because it’s the Champions League.”
“I had Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane and with that team we attacked in different ways. Now we don’t have them, for many reasons. We have Jack and Riyad so we play another way. But I know if we put Kevin or Phil on the pitch, we can run, attack quick.
“If we draw or lose, I’m wrong – I know that. But I thought that we wanted this type of game. After that, we missed a little bit with Erling. The players want to find this animal and score three goals every day. We want it.
“What can I say against Nottingham Forest, honestly? What can I say after Arsenal? With 35 per cent possession, how we ran, and then play and behave how we did at Nottingham. It was a 0-5 [game], honestly.
“The reality now is that we conceded one shot on target against Everton and dropped two points. One shot on target against Nottingham, we dropped two points. We had chances and chances but did not score. You ask Pep for a reason? It’s football. There is no explanation.”