How Pep Guardiola Absolutely Smashed This Season
Pep Guardiola’s success in Manchester City culminated this season as he finally got his hands on the Treble. First, he managed to take the Premier League trophy from Arsenal, who had the lead through the entire season. After that, he beat his rivals, Manchester United, to secure the FA Cup. Finally, the most important trophy of the season, and the maiden title for City, Pep took the Champions League against Inter.
It took around 15 years and more than £2 billion in investments for City to take what they wanted. But, once Pep took over the Citizens, he set his plan in motion, and in six years, he brought everything the club ever wanted. Let’s find out how Pep managed to absolutely dominate this season in all competitions.
Reforming the Team
Pep’s goal from the start was to create unity and harmony between the players. While he saw quite a few come and go, the most notable drop was Joao Cancelo. While the full-back was immensely talented and versatile, he was not the type of player Pep wanted in his lineup.
Namely, while Joao was Pep’s go-to guy, the problems started once Joao started arguing about his game time. Guardiola understood what he had to do. The falling out was mainly due to Joao Cancelo’s childish behaviour.
Pep immediately shipped the player off to Bayern Munich, despite risking reinforcing his Champions League opponent. This was one of the more drastic examples of what happens when something is not in accordance with Pep’s plan. However, there were a lot more changes soon to follow.
Adapting a New Tactic
The most important factor for Pep’s success was his unconventional and personalised tactics. Namely, there is no specific formation you can say the Citizens implemented. Man City used a variation of tactics when shifting from defending to attacking.
While many would argue that the formation used by Pep’s team was an unusual 3-2-4-1, it was way more. The so-called position play from City allowed them to keep possession and shift from defence to offence easily. Pep’s innovation in football tactics create a seemingly unbeatable team, as we have seen this season.
Another element in his new tactics is the false nine striker. A floating centre-forward whose job is to move towards the ball from higher positions. Most likely, the false nine drops centrally, dragging the defensive players of the opposition. The most common players in this position for Pep were Gundogan, Silva, De Bruyne, and Foden.
John Stones Evolution
Guardiola’s attempts to move John Stone into a more hybrid position were mainly met with disagreement from the player. However, once Stones realised he had the potential to move forward, he has become a crucial player for the Citizens. Shifting from full-back to defensive midfielder, Stones lives up to his name, the Barnsley Beckenbauer.
The Haaland and De Bruyne Combination
De Bruyne’s performance was originally not enough for Guardiola. At the time, Pep benched the Belgian superstar, which of course, enraged the player. However, this was another brilliant tactic from the Spaniard, as once he brought De Bruyne back in full-time, his performance and assists were out of this world.
Some would argue that De Bruyner is one of the best players in the world at the moment. However, none of City’s success would have been possible without someone on the other side of Kevin De Bruyne’s passes. And on the other side is none other than Erling Haaland.
The Danish superstar has broken countless records in a short period of time. Most importantly, he more than completed the strategy for Guardiola, as he was the ideal centre-forward for the Citizens.
His 52 goals in the season have pushed the boundaries and added a new dimension to the club. After struggling for some time without a traditional striker, Erling Haaland was the best thing to happen to the club.
His physical prowess and superiority over many defensive players, combined with the exceptional passing capabilities of De Bruyne, are deadly. With the two, the Citizens probably have the most lethal duo at the moment.