Pep Guardiola reveals secret to Manchester City’s defensive improvements
Manchester City’s defensive solidarity has seen them become favorites in the Premier League title race this season, with just 13 goals conceded in their 21 outings so far.
The arrival of Ruben Dias has been hailed as the catalyst for City’s new solidarity, while John Stones’ return to form has also been a huge factor, with the pair creating a formable partnership at the heart of City’s defense.
However, while Pep Guardiola acknowledges the performance of individuals within his squad, the city boss believes his team’s ability on the ball has been key to their success.
“The reason why [our defensive record is so good] It’s because 67% of the time we have the ball, “he told Sky Sports.” That’s the main reason. The main reason is that we have the ball. If you have the ball as much as possible, the opponent does not have the ball.
“Of course the opponent can score from a set piece or a counterattack, but the more you have the ball the more chances you have to score a goal. This is the reason why.
“Maybe one day they will change the rules but I think to score a goal you need the ball.”
Guardiola’s managerial career has already gleaned top titles in Spain, Germany and England, with the Catalan coach’s ability to stifle his opponents proving essential.
Last season City struggled defensively – conceding nearly one goal per game in their 38 Premier League appearances – and Guardiola has no illusions that this is what cost them their title.
“You can’t win titles, especially Premier League and Bundesliga titles, if you concede a lot of goals,” he added.
“Last season we conceded more than usual and we didn’t adapt well to some things. But if you look at the goals we have conceded in all our years here in Manchester, Munich, Barcelona, it was still little. , little, little.
“And we did it by playing 50 or 60 yards in front of our goal, and we’ve always been stable defensively. Absolutely, I don’t want to concede goals. And I want to score a lot. This is what we work with well. quality players who want the ball. “
While Guardiola was keen to avoid praising individuals for his squad’s fine form this season, he couldn’t help but acknowledge the leadership skills and understanding of the game brought to his side by Dias.
“Basically he talks to them during the game,” he said. “He anticipates. He doesn’t play the game for himself, he watches what’s going on in front of him and behind him. ”
Manchester City travel to Merseyside on Sunday knowing that a win over Liverpool would see them extend their lead over the current champions to ten points.
Anfield is one of the few grounds in England where Guardiola does not have a winning record, although he hopes this is not a factor ahead of the clash.
“If we just think about it, we’ll forget to play, and when you forget to play, you just adapt to what other teams are,” he said. “Of course, they’re such a dangerous team, but I’m concerned about what we’re going to do.”
“I want to go into every game reminding the players why they became football players and that is to play with the ball. It’s a stupid thing, a simple thing, whatever you want to say. But I organize my teams from day one until today in this way.