The Catalan coach opted to play without a striker two years ago but is now adopting a more traditional system at the Etihad Stadium.
Last year, a panel of high-profile former players paid tribute to Pep Guardiola on BT Sport for changing English football. Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Glenn Hoddle have praised the Manchester City manager for leading the country to embrace European ideas and say since the serial-winning Catalan arrived in England in 2016, he has changed the culture for the better. Has helped to change.
“We have now adopted this European way of playing and our ideas about football,” Ferdinand said. “In the academies, coaching is very different from when we were growing up, when it was about shouting and pulling people left and right. Today, it’s Guardiola’s culture, which has had a huge influence on this style of football. “We were stuck in the way we played in the 1970s and 1980s, 4-4-2,” Hoddle added.
Whenever this idea was brought up, Guardiola consistently rejected it and stated that he had not changed English football and never wanted to. He said last May, “Absolutely, I haven’t changed it. Every manager has his own ideas, I honestly haven’t changed anything.”
But he admitted that English football has changed him and he has taken “a lot of things” from his adopted country. “Here I definitely changed. I got to know new players, new styles, new managers, new ways of communicating with your players, with the media. Every manager is better than the manager he was in the beginning. “
Last season, Guardiola adopted an old idea from Tony Pulis, generally seen as his philosophical opposite, by playing four centre-backs in some matches and changing Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji to full-backs. And this season they have adopted another old idea: a 4-4-2 formation, which Hoddle said was indicative of the staleness of the English game.
Each of Guardiola’s innovations is the result of long thinking and careful planning. Their latest tactical plan is very simple: it is a way to accommodate their two world-class strikers, Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez.