Blues' boss speaks candidly about challenges he faces after cup win
Maybe someone told Pep Guardiola that there is precious little to like about someone being so precious.
Four days after sounding as tetchy and evasive as an overgrown teenager, Man City’s boss took a leaf out of his rivals’ book and spoke candidly about the challenges he faced in his pre-F.A. Cup 3rd Round media briefing.
All the Pep talk with the Press before then had been entirely negative. It started when Leicester embarrassed City 4-2 at the start of December, a shock result most online footy tipsters perhaps hadn’t predicted. Responding to his side’s appetite, or lack of, for the physical side of the game, Guardiola said he did not coach tackles.
Snide remarks about English football and its kick-and-rush nature followed after the 1-0 loss at Liverpool. ‘The kind of football here, it’s like this - no time to think, so aggressive, up and down, up and down, second ball, second ball …,’ he lamented.
And then, despite bagging all three points in a 2-1 home home against Burnley, when City showed great resilience to counter the loss of Fernandinho to a first-half red card, Guardiola appeared to look as if he would rather be anywhere else than fronting up to Fleet Street’s finest.
To be so visibly riled by questions about City’s indifferent form is never a good sign at this stage of the season, especially as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is so masterly at dealing with the media and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte continues to be coolness personified, even after his side’s bid to break the Premiership record of 13 straight wins came to an end at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.
Like all good managers, Guardiola put the blame on himself for his side’s indifferent form in the days immediately before the Cup tie with West Ham. Reacting to City’s seventh red card of the season, Guardiola spoke of how his previous teams a Bayern Munich and Barcelona had always been top of the Fair Play League, and pointed out that it is taking him some time to adjust to the different interpretation of the rules over here.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to understand in other games when it is a yellow and red card, and why sometimes it’s a foul, or sometimes not a foul. That’s what I have to learn,” he admitted.
His 35-minute charm offensive can only serve City in good stead, and when you look at it at face value, City don’t have a great deal to be downhearted about.
Despite their so-called bad run, City are still only seven points off Chelsea on top, and with a reasonable run of games ahead of them ahead of them, there is no reason to suggest they won’t reduce that deficit and still be bang in contention for the title before the crucial period between mid-March and the first week in April when they play Liverpool at home and then face back-to-back trips to Arsenal and Chelsea.
If Guardiola can patch up his differences with star striker Sergio Aguero in the same way he has had a U-turn with the media, then City will be right back on track.