West Brom draw forced Pep Guardiola into tactical tweak that led to record run

Jim van Wijk, PA
·3 min read

Pep Guardiola admitted he did not recognise his Manchester City team before a return to their “ABC” principles kick-started their surge to the top of the Premier League table.

City’s 4-1 win over Wolves at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night made it 21 straight wins in an unbeaten run of 28 in all competitions.

The last defeat came on November 21 when losing 2-0 at Tottenham and left City eight points off the pace, but they now sit 14 points clear.

Guardiola revealed it was after his side had been held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-battling West Brom that he had seen enough and decided to go back to the foundations of their success.

“At that moment we realised we were not brilliant, everything was heavy in terms of it was not natural,” Guardiola told BT Sport’s ‘Rio Meets,’ which is hosted by former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

“We adjusted something, to put more players in front of the box, but especially it was the day after the West Brom game, when we drew 1-1 at home.

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“We could have won, but after I went to my friends and staff and said: ‘I don’t like the team, the way we play. It doesn’t matter about the result, I don’t recognise my team, the way they should play’.

“We just came back to the principles – A,B,C, that is all. So wingers high and wide, a lot of players in the middle, come back without the ball – run like animals – and with the ball be more calm, (make) more passes (that) help, think about more what we have to do.

“The quality of the players, with the confidence they win one game, then another one and another one, but when I think (back) to the West Brom (game), I reflect and think ‘I don’t like at all what I am watching.’ We came back to our principles, then the quality of the players has done the rest.”

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Spaniard Guardiola, who took charge in 2016, has signed a contract extension that will keep him at City until at least 2023.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola added: “I have always had the feeling, the dream to come here (to England) – to train in the (William) Shakespeare country, in the Beatles’ country, in Oasis country, the theatres, the movies. This country is special for many, many, many reasons and I wanted to live this.

“I hate November, December, January and February in England because I would like better weather, but I have everything (I need) to do my job, that is the reason why I extended my contract.

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Despite their domestic dominance, Guardiola knows European success remains very much on the agenda.

“I will have this pressure for the rest of my time here in England, I know it – if we do not get to the end, the latter stages or go through, it will be unfinished business, I accept it,” the City boss said.

“I cannot deny we were not able to do it in Europe, hopefully in this season or the next ones, we can make the next step.