Pep Guardiola denies ‘tactical fouling’ claim
The Manchester City manager responded to claims by TV pundit Gary Neville that his players foul opposition players at ‘the right time’.
Pep Guardiola has rubbished fresh claims his Manchester City side are masters of ‘tactical fouling’.
TV pundit Gary Neville this week revived a suggestion raised by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho last season that City know when the time is right to impede an opponent.
The inference is that City, for all their slick attacking football and dominance of possession, are quite happy to concede free-kicks if it prevents counter-attacks on the rare occasions they lose the ball.
City manager Guardiola insists that is not true.
“I am not completely agreeing with that,” said Guardiola. “It has never happened in my career and never will happen in my career.
“We are a team that tries to play. Of course sometimes there are counter-attacks and we make a foul (because) sometimes the action is a contact, but we don’t think about that.
“Never are my teams focused about making something wrong for the opponents. Situations happen, but we are a team that tries to attack, defend well, play our game.
“I am not discovering (giving away) a secret for you – when the opponent has the ball we are going to push them, press them to regain the ball and attack more. That is the main thing.
“But people have to know – and Gary Neville knows perfectly well because he was a player – the opponents play too. Sometimes they dribble and you arrive late, they go down and you make a foul. It happens. I don’t say we are not making fouls, but the intention to do something, no.”
Guardiola, whose champion side host Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday, believes that good attacks are built when the whole team defends well.
He said: “I said many times to the players – the guy who doesn’t run for his mate, who doesn’t run with desire to regain the ball to play, with me (he has) no chance. It doesn’t matter who plays, they know that. Even at 89 minutes and winning, they continue.
“I always try to convince the players when the ball is far away from our goal we are safe. That is much better. It is important how few chances we concede.
“I have always been focused on defending well. The only difference is now we try to do it far away from our goal. That is a good signal to attack better. When you defend solid you attack better.”
Guardiola expects all players to buy into this philosophy.
He said: “It is finished, the period where a striker says, ‘OK, the ball is going to come, I am going to score and then take a coffee when the opponent has the ball’. You see in the top clubs everybody fights and we have to be part of that.”
Guardiola is pleased with the make-up of his squad and is not planning many more major signings in the near future.
He said: “This season we spent less and next season maybe one player we are going to buy, no more than that.”