Pep Guardiola has no desire to turn Manchester City into a mini-Barcelona and insists it would be impossible to mimic the Catalan giants over the duration of his three-year contract.
Guardiola suffered a chastening return to Camp Nou on Wednesday, with 10-man City going down to a 4-0 Champions League defeat after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was sent off for deliberate handball and Lionel Messi completed a hat-trick.
Bravo’s dismissal came after an attempt to build an attack from the back went awry and prompted fresh questions over Guardiola’s commitment to a passing style of play, with Premier League leaders City winless in four matches across all competitions ahead of Southampton’s visit to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The former Barca and Bayern Munich boss told a pre-match news conference that he will stick to his tactical principles but pointed out this does not amount to Barcelona-lite.
“I don’t want to play like Barcelona. Barcelona play in that way, it depends on the players they have – especially one [Messi],” he said.
“I hear many times people say, ‘Pep is coming here to change English football’. I said from the beginning, forget about it. I am not here to change absolutely anything.
“I want to learn and I will try to change one way to play for my players and try to convince them they can have fun and play good and win as many games as possible, fighting for the titles.
“That is only my target. The players we are working with every single day, we are going to try.
“That is why Manchester City contacted me – to try to play in the way that I believe with the players that I have.”
Guardiola maintained he is flexible within his vision and praised the manner in which City’s squad have adapted to his methods despite their recent setbacks.
Nevertheless, he believes a golden period of success, such as the one enjoyed by Barcelona after the appointment of his mentor Johan Cruyff, is fanciful.
“Of course I am going to adapt to the quality of the players,” he said. “I am not going to play long, long balls when the striker is short. Of course, [Sergio] Aguero has the quality to score goals at the right moment with his head.
“We are going to play the way we play for the quality of our players and we did it many times this year. I am still impressed by how quickly we played well many, many times in the game, with a huge personality in a short time.
“But to achieve what [Barcelona] achieved, we need decades. That’s what happened in Barcelona. Cruyff arrived in 1988. Count, it’s 25, 26, 27 years after that.
“I am ambitious but not to change what is impossible to change in a short time. It is impossible.”
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