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EPL Title: A test of Guardiola's philosophy

EPL By: Linus Onyeze | 24/12/2016

pep-guardiola-jpg-0-46289600-1477239955Pep Guardiola's philosophy will be severely tested if he is to succeed in England.

Seventeen games into his maiden season in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola may already be considering altering his philosophy if he is to be a success in England. Yes, that’s how tough it has been and it won’t get any easier.

Although, following the defeat to Leicester a few weeks ago, he insisted he wouldn’t change his style and philosophy and while that is an admirable stance, but sooner or later he may be forced to, as results and his own admissions have shown.

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After that game, he said: “The second ball is a concept this is typical here in England when they use a lot of tackles.

“I am not a coach for the tackles. I don’t train for tackles. What I want is to try to play well and score goals. What are tackles?” after statistics showed that Manchester City failed to win a single tackle in the first 35 minutes of that encounter.

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And while he may insist on his system – which by the way has served him so well – whereby his teams hardly go in for the tackles but rather rely on pressing their opponents high up the pitch immediately after losing possession.

However, it is quite different how teams are set up in Spain and Germany – where he has only previously worked – to England, where he currently works. At Barcelona for example, he had the perfect players who fitted in directly to his plans – Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Added to the fact that with Barca’s stature, it was always difficult for the other teams to even come close to matching them quality for quality as they can barely afford to buy similar players to what the Catalans had. It was the same situation in Germany with Bayern Munich, but make no mistakes, that is not take anything away from him.

But as he has seen, it more difficult in England and while City are one of the richer clubs in the Premier League, the so called smaller clubs can also afford to buy some very decent players to compete, much unlike their counterparts in Spain and Germany.

So as a result, it was easier for that system to excel in La Liga and the Bundesliga because first, emphasis aren’t exactly much on winning the second balls in those leagues and given the often huge gap between the top and smaller clubs there, there isn’t always room for contest.

En England, however, even the smallest teams place huge emphasis on winning the tackles, running every blade of grass on the pitch and winning the second balls so when you do not have a team nearly as good as what Guardiola has had at Barcelona and Bayern, then you begin to understand why a change in philosophy might be needed.

This is by no means a suggestion for him to abandon his principles, but like he will find out eventually, if you must win in England, you must play ‘dirty’ sometimes even if you’re a big club. He should ask why Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title in 12 years.
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