December 18, 2016


Pep Guardiola is now a prisoner of his own idealism... instinctively I'm in his camp and I have loved watching his teams but what we are seeing is footballing suicide (GLENN HODDLE, 12/18/16, THE MAIL ON SUNDAY)

I spent the best part of the Seventies despairing over English football. I spent much of the Eighties in an England midfield watching the ball soar over my head and being out-numbered and out-passed. 

I longed for the day when we would pass the ball out and try to focus on skill rather than physicality. [...]

Instinctively, I'm in his camp. I've loved watching his teams. But when he came to England I did also say that it would be his biggest test and that he would have to adapt to our game. At the moment what I'm watching is footballing suicide.

Teams are relishing playing City, rubbing their hands together saying: 'Well, if they want to play like that, great. We'll press them, cut down the angles and let them make their mistakes.'

There's nothing wrong with playing out from the back but it's where you choose to do so which is important. Guardiola's team seem to want to do so from very deep. 

So when the centre halves split, they stay almost adjacent to the six-yard box. That is what was happening to John Stones or Bacary Sagna last Saturday.

They would receive the ball very deep and wide, get pressed immediately and have to go back to the goalkeeper. But if the ball goes back to the keeper, he's also too deep and disengaged from the full backs and midfield players. 

So he ends up playing a hurried long ball. With your centre backs still spread out wide, you're then left horribly exposed to a quick counter-attack if you lose the second ball. 

And because, as Guardiola said, English teams are good at winning back the second ball, that happens a lot here.

The out ball the keeper is looking for in that situation is to the full backs, who are pushed on in Guardiola's system. But opposition teams are now just pressing those players high and making sure to have someone good in the air up against them. 

Pep could get away with it at Barcelona and Bayern, as most opponents would fear them and wouldn't press them high up the pitch. But in England it's different and at City, Guardiola has nowhere near the squad he had at Bayern or Barca.

Posted by at December 18, 2016 10:45 AM