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    Pep Guardiola finding out England is harder to crack than he thought

    Sitting in the dugouts at Goodison Park on Sunday, Pep Guardiola looked a shadow of the bright, irresistible man than first strutted into the Premier League as the best manager in the world. Ten wins on the trot had City purring at the top of the table, whilst starting their Champions League campaign in fine fashion – only adding to his status as the world’s no.1. Fast forward six months and the City manager cut a beaten, frustrated figure, as his team suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to Everton, leaving the light blues 5th and ten points adrift of leaders Chelsea.  He admits it means their title challenge is over. Defeat highlighted more fragilities in the City defence – which he described as a ‘’shambles’’ - that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has failed to address. Moreover, it showed the problems in their ageing side as Pablo Zabaleta, 31, was run ragged and beaten by his 18-year-old centre-midfield counterpart Tom Davies.

    Toffees manager Ronal Koeman used to give his younger colleague lessons in tactics when the two were at Barcelona under Johan Cruyff in the ‘90’s as the Dutchman stamped his attractive brand of football on the Catalan giants. It was a style of play Guardiola loved and has instilled on his teams. And whilst City gaffer no longer picks Koeman’s brains, he could do with using his approach of blooding youngsters such as Davies and £10m singing Ademola Lookman – who scored – both of whom tore the visitors apart.

    Although the start created a façade that he would stroll to the title, the Spaniard is finding it hard to adapt. Yes, he walked the walk in La Liga, creating a sexy, attractive brand of football that made Barcelona unstoppable before conquering the Bundesliga with Munich. But with City he doesn’t have stars like Messi. More so, those leagues were far less physical and far less demanding and his side, one of the oldest teams on average in the league, cannot keep up with the rigours. He said he doesn’t teach tackles – why would you need to in countries such as Spain that are more possession based than those of physicality? But In England you have to be physical and his defence can’t simply rely on skill to get them out; they need to be physical in order to stop teams.

    In Spain and Germany it’s mostly the usual suspects that win the league. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Munich. In England – as Leicester showed – it can be anyone. Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United will all believe they can win it and that pressure has also told on the former midfielder. As they’ve all won and kept up the pressure, his side have cracked with a string of bad results, including the 4-2 away defeat against Leicester and defeat to Liverpool, to leave them clinging on to Champions League qualification hopes.  

    He will need time to adapt his style of play to the Premier League, but the City board will want success. In this league, you don’t get much time on the ball. Team’s won’t stand by and watch, they won’t allow balls to be played out from the back and they will tackle hard, which gives less time to play the gorgeous football he wants. Couple that with the some of the players he has such as Nicolas Otamendi, Claudio Bravo and more, some of his players aren’t good enough for his revolution. He will want to buy better players. But as his team slip away, more pressure will mount – and he may just find himself needing to adapt in order to climb further up the league.

    He suggested this may be his last job and he’s also been callous with journalists. It seems as though it wasn’t as easy  ashe thought to bring tika-taka football the England.  But whether he can bring that style of play or opts for a different route, he needs to adapt quickly to pull City up the table and to improve his reputation as the world’s finest. And unless he can sort out City’s woes it seems as though those issues will continue to resurface.


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    Item Reviewed: Pep Guardiola finding out England is harder to crack than he thought Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Marcus Hogg
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