Saturday, March 25, 2017

No defence for Guardiola’s style of play at Manchester City

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has a lot to ponder after the Citizens last-16 exit in the Champions League

Wednesday night will have been a painful one for Manchester City fans. The Citizens travelled to Monaco for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie 5-3 up from the first leg.

City seemed in control of the tie. However, Monaco were never going to be easy opponents for the Citizens in this competition.

They had proven in the first leg just how dangerous they are as a team and did once again in the principality with a 3-1 victory to win the tie on away goals.

The Citizens can only play one way under boss Pep Guardiola and that is on the front foot and that was their downfall in Monaco. The Catalan boss does not seem to be able to play any other way. However, unfortunately for him, he does not have the players to play that way successful at the moment.

Had to go on the front foot

Manchester City started Wednesday’s game with their usual attacking array of talent. The Citizens line-up with David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling playing in front of their only defensive minded midfielder Fernandinho.

That sort of attacking line-up was always going to lead to trouble for Guardiola’s side against a high-scoring Monaco side. The French league leaders are the most prolific team in any of European football’s top leagues, having scored 84 goals in the French top-flight this season.

The City midfield and backline was simply overrun by the energetic young Monaco side and Guardiola could do little about it.

This was a game that most other bosses would have adapted their style, but not Guardiola. The Catalan boss knew he had to attack the game that way because quite simply his side are not good enough in defence to sit back.

A major rethink at the back for Guardiola this summer

Manchester City brought in John Stones for a massive fee last summer. The Citizens need to spend big on at least another centre-back, two full-backs and a possibly a defensive midfielder this summer.

The likes of Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna are all out of contract in the summer. It seems that none of the defensive trio are likely to be handed a new deal at the Manchester club. City need full-backs that can defend, but still have enough energy and stamina to get forward as well, something that the current occupants of the full-back positions struggle to do.

The Citizens boss Guardiola should now know that current group of players, or more importantly defenders are not good enough to get the job done.

The former-Barcelona boss has an attacking mentality as a coach anyway. However, he has also probably realised with the current group of players that the best form of defence is to attack.

Guardiola is sending his teams out to outscore opponents because they can’t rely on the defenders to keep the back door shut, which the City boss also has to take some responsibility for.

A rebuilding job in the summer

Manchester City are still very much in a fight for a top four spot this season and are odds of 1/7 to finish in the Champions League spots. However, Guardiola will now have realised that turning City into a real force will be a bigger job than he originally expected.

The current squad is good enough to get into the top four and make it into the last-16 of the Champions League. However, if the Citizens are to move forward Guardiola must rebuild the squad in the summer.

There is talk of up to 18 players leaving the club in the summer. Very few players are safe from being sold in the summer. The likes of Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Stones seem like the only players immune from the potential summer cull.

Pep Guardiola has high standards and City have backers who are prepared to back him in the transfer market in the summer. The former Barcelona boss needs to strengthen the foundations of his team before he can play the passing and attacking style of football he wants to play.

City have been highly suspect at the back for much of the season and Guardiola now has the major task of attempting to put that right in the coming months. Good luck Pep, you may need it.

Is Manchester City’s main priority to buy defenders this summer?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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