Pep Guardiola admits he curbed Manchester City's attacking instincts
7 October 2018 • 8:13pm
Pep Guardiola explained why he chose not go toe-to-toe with Liverpool as he compromised his attacking principles to secure an Anfield point.
City’s surprisingly conservative tactics would have been validated with victory but for Riyad Mahrez’s penalty miss.
To say the Spaniard ‘parked the bus’ is stretching the point. Nevertheless, having claimed he would never change his philosophy before the trip, Guardiola conceded he had to change after previous experiences.
“If it is an open game at Anfield, you don’t even have one chance, not even one per cent of a chance,” said Guardiola.
“We controlled it through Riyad, Bernardo and the guys to give the extra pass. It's important because up and down I'm pretty sure they are the best team in the world in these transitions, offensive, defensive. It is (a team) built for that. In that situation, they are much better than us.”
City had less possession than any game under Guardiola. It was also the longest they have gone without a shot on target during his reign – 62 minutes.
Guardiola felt curbing his instincts necessary to curtail Liverpool’s front three, who barely threatened.
“I am so comfortable with the performance. They didn’t have one shot on target,” said Guardiola.
“Doing that in Anfield, that is so complicated. That is why I have so much credit for what we have done. Okay, we miss a bit in front, a little more creativity and pace to finish the action, but it is not easy because they are so strong and good.
“Lovren - final of World Cup. Van Dijk is a top central defender. Gomez is in incredible form. The goalkeeper. We cannot forget against which team we compete and we made that performance. We controlled much better than in the past, and with the second balls, on which they are masters. Don't lose the ball in dangerous positions because when you lose the ball there, they counter attack with Firmino, Mane and Salah. That's why we controlled it so good. Maybe we learn for the future.
“It is a point. We were close, more than ever to winning here but it is better than last season, we didn't lose. We tried to be ourselves all the time and we compete really, really good. We had our chance.”
Klopp was equally content with the draw after emerging from a hectic fixture schedule in which Liverpool played Tottenham, PSG, Chelsea (twice), Napoli and City.
“It was an unbelievably intense period, our fixtures were just crazy and you can never moan about it when you are in it. Now it’s over so I can moan about it,” said Klopp.
“Playing these teams is really difficult, and I am happy with the results we got. If somebody would have told me after eight matchdays you have 20 points, I would say with that fixture list, ‘I’ll buy it, let’s start with the ninth matchday!’
“The boys unfortunately go away again now and have to play Nations Cup games – the most senseless competition in the world. we hope that they come back healthy and play these ‘easy’ competitions, the Premier League, the Champions League.
“It’s tough times for the boys, eh? We have to start thinking about the players. Somebody asked me, ‘Is the level of the game because of the intensity?’ If you want to see fresher, give them a summer break – for Jordan Henderson it was exactly two weeks, which is funny.”
Klopp felt Liverpool showed they were closer to City’s level in Sunday’s draw than his previous victories last season.
“We played City very often and they are just outstanding. In no game we played so far, the game was level like it was today,” said Klopp.
“Even when we won 3-0 at home, 4-3, 2-1 at City, over the full match it was never like this. For both teams it was really intense, and both showed respect for the other team. Don’t lose the ball in the wrong moment, otherwise you have big problems.”
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