Pep Guardiola has opened up on Manchester City’s tactical shift this season and says the club had to come back to their ‘principles’ this season.
Guardiola’s side have overcome an indifferent start that saw them win just three of their opening eight fixtures to emerge as the favourites in the Premier League title race, moving top of the division following a 5-0 thrashing of West Brom in midweek.
The emphatic victory continued a run of 11 consecutive wins in all competitions, whilst City are now unbeaten in 18 games since losing 2-0 at Tottenham in late November.
Key to their success has been a water-tight defence with City having conceded just two goals in their past 11 league fixtures, whilst Guardiola has also opened up on the subtle tactical tweaks he has made to the side.
The Spaniard says he has reverted back to the principles that saw City crowned as champions in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018 after adjusting the positions of his attacking players.
“In previous seasons, the wingers were wider and higher, so we came back to our principles. For many reasons, we had to adapt to the quality we had and the players we had in that moment,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference.
“That is the reason I tried to find the way. In the end, I felt having the wingers wide and high helped us to be more stable and the quality of the players do the rest. When we have the ball, we run less.
“When things don’t go well, managers have the feeling we don’t fight or have the spirit. The reason we didn’t play well was because when we had the ball we ran too much. When we have the ball we need to walk. When we don’t have the ball you have to run with your life.
“Now I think we are calmer. To play Sheffield [United] is always uncomfortable for us. That system – the 5-3-2 – is difficult to attack. I am a little bit concerned about the game tomorrow (Saturday).”
City will be looking to continue their recent run when they host bottom side Sheffield United tomorrow, the struggling Blades having been buoyed by a shock 2-1 win at Manchester United on Wednesday night.