Pep Guardiola, Manager of the Manchester City Football club has accepted the honest critics of him not being up to the mark with the team. Manchester City gave a huge upset on the night of 15th August when they lost to Lyon by 3-1 in the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions league. The Club has won the competition two times in the last 3 years and was also considered among the top favorites to win this year’s cup as well. In the meantime, many people including the football experts are blaming Pep for his mismanaged tactics. Though even Pep accepts it!
Pep Guardiola has been a big name when we talk about the best football managers in the World. He has led his teams to some of the greatest wonders and achievements only because of his brilliant tactics. Starting from his career as a Defense Midfielder for Barcelona, who won the first ever European cup for his club in 1992.
He started his journey as a manager for his very team Barcelona and what followed was just the record breaking performances every year. In the very first year of him being the manager, he guided Barcelona to win Laliga, Copa Del Rey and UEFA Champions league. He made Barcelona a dream team to create a record of winning the most consecutive games in Laliga. He was the youngest manager to achieve this fate. In 2011, he was also awarded one of the highest honors, “FIFA World Coach of the year”. He ended his 4 year Barcelona journey in 2012 with 14 honors.
After the exit from Barcelona, he was appointed as manager for Bayern Munich (FCB) in 2013. Pep won every Bundesliga season with Bayern when he was there till 2015. He left Bayern for Manchester City in 2016 and won numerous records for Manchester City. He guided them to win a Premier League title in his very second campaign as in charge and also made City to become the first team ever in the history of premier league to attain 100 league points in a season. He continued this run by winning the second consecutive Premier league tile, FA cup, and EFL cup in the following season which made him to be the first manager ever to win the Domestic Treble in the English men’s football.
He was expected to continue like this even in this year’s Champions league but his team became the victims of their own strengths. With the likes of Sterling, De Bryne, Gabriel, and Walker they were certainly the favorites. They defeated the powerhouse ‘Real Madrid’ in the previous game of the knockout stage by 2-1 but got defeated by the underdogs of this competition Lyon by 3-1 leading them out of the Champions League. With the game Man. City had, everyone expected them to cross the line easily but that was not the case due to the strayed formation Pep believed would earn him the game.
Guardiola strayed with his 4-3-3 formation which won many games before and believed it to be well against Lyon. He fielded back-three including a highly inexperienced Gracia as the central defender.
“In this competition I think the tactics are not the most important thing”. Said by Guardiola in one of his interviews. Though it cost them the game.
Guardiola says “Lyon are very fast on attack and our central defenders are not so quick so I didn’t want to leave them for two versus two. We worked hard on this for three days, we discussed and reviewed it and when you play as we did in the last 20 minutes, it shows the system is not the problem”.
But city played it with three defenders and two on the defense mid field, still the Lyon forwards got in behind them. When you play highline at the back and still get caught like City in yesterday’s game, there seems to be problems! Even the midfield was not at its best to control possession. Though they seemed getting back hard in the last 25 minutes where De Bryne scored a leveler, but still failed with their defense and let the Lyon forward Dembele, tip 2 more goals making it to be 3-1 by the final time. Raheem Sterling missed a cake walk goal which he could’ve scored even with a blindfold, but it was not his day.
Well during the second goal, Gracia was badly caught out of the position while the defense also slipped off completely. The defense also failed even during the first goal, allowing a free curling strike for Maxwel Cornet at goal from outside the area.
It was objected by football experts that Pep got it wrong. He picked his normal team in the regular position and went ahead with the attack. The question that arises is why did he go with the unfamiliar positions and formation to play against Lyon’s shape and did not leave the players on bench who could’ve caused problems.
We all know how Man city attacks when they go at teams where they pin it back and move the ball so quickly, though this was not seen in the first half of the game. They were up with a very slow tempo which suited Lyon perfectly and gave them a comfortable position.
All the three goals scored by Lyon seemed to be pure giveaways that ended their run in the Champions league this year. Goalkeeper Ederson got vulnerable against Dembele who was substituted on the 75th minute for Depay. Though many are blaming Sterling for missing that brilliant opportunity, but the truth is Manchester City was not at their A game against Lyon. The game plan seemed wrong, the performance also lacked.
Pep Guardiola, objected for his mismanaged tactics and not using the better players against Lyon, has accepted that his tactics didn’t work. He reviewed and examined but still it didn’t go the right way. Well this happens in football, sometimes the strategies don’t go right. But we know the standards of Pep Guardiola The manager and we know he’ll come back strongly for the coming seasons.