On Saturday evening, Manchester City suffered a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham. Spurs defended brilliantly, as is more often not the case Mourinho got his tactics spot on in a big game. The victory took Jose Mourinho’s team to the top of the Premier League table, where many expected the Citizens to reside this season.
City seems to have had a common problem for the last season and a half. When opponents sit deep and counter-attack, they struggle to break them down. For all their possession they lack an end product. This problem was illustrated in north London.
Guardiola’s usually found a solution
For much of his managerial career City head coach, Pep Guardiola has faced teams attempting to do what Tottenham did in Saturday’s game sit back and allow his team the ball. Their opponents usually made it hard by putting men behind the ball. The Catalan boss usually found a solution, as he became known for his tactical acumen. He would come up with an innovative system or style of play that would find a way past the brick wall in front of his team.
However, the last two seasons Guardiola’s team have not had that spark to overcome a tough opponent. The opposition team deserve credit for nullifying the former Barcelona bosses tactics, but it seems to be getting easier.
Changing of the old guard a problem for City
When Manchester City dominated the Premier League under Guardiola some players were vital to the team’s success. The City team contained the likes of Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero. These players roles were all vital to make City successful.
The first two have now left the club from Manchester after trophy-laden spells with the club. The latter pair have been injury-prone, with seemingly age finally catching up to them.
Fernandinho was one of City’s most important players. He would be the one who would cover the massive gaping holes in defence created by most of his teammates pouring forward. Time and injury problems have meant he has not been the same player in recent seasons.
Silva was the locksmith of the City team, as he unlocks defences regularly with clever movement, vision and the sort technique that few players have in the English top-flight.
Kompany was captain fantastic, despite injury problems, he was a supreme leader on and off the pitch reportedly. His absence in defence has been heavily felt in the past 18 months.
Unfortunately, the players brought in have not been of the same standard. It would be harsh to judge the likes of Ruben Dias at centre-back or Ferran Torres. However, Spanish midfielder Rodri has failed to show why Guardiola saw him as a long-term Fernandinho replacement.
Lack of cutting edge the most concerning issue
Big-money signing Ruben Dias may prove to be the defensive solution for City in the heart of their defence. However, the biggest concern for Guardiola’s team against Spurs was that they simply did not look like breaking Tottenham down. Their possession of the ball led nowhere. A disallowed goal from Gabriel Jesus was the closest City came to scoring. In the end, the Citizens were reduced to taking potshots from long distance.
Boss Pep Guardiola has recently signed a new two-year contract with the Manchester club. The former Barcelona boss now needs to figure out how to turn things around. He must do it quickly too, as the Citizens are currently 11th place in the table, eight points behind yesterday’s opponents.
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Can Pep Guardiola turn things around at Manchester City?