Written by Carl Walker

Josep Guardiola’s arrival was something of a drawn out affair. Manchester City announced he would be arriving at the end of January 2016 and would start work in the summer of 2016.

There was a buzz about the club and amongst press alike. Pep Guardiola has taken to management like a duck to water, dominating in La Liga and Europe with Barcelona, we ran out of plaudits.

Three league titles, two Copa Del Rey triumphs and two champions league wins along with a host of other trophies in a three year period made the world sit up and take notice of the dominance.

APRIL 11, 2009 - Football : Manager Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Recreativo Huelva at the Camp Nou Stadium on April 11, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 2-0. (Photo by Tsutomu Takasu)
credit Tsutomu Takasu

After a year out Pep was back, Bayern Munich his next project. Once again, three league titles and numerous cup wins to add to his growing CV, Bayern were rampant and with Dortmund struggling it was a no contest.

When Manchester City announced that Pep Guardiola was taking over, journalists, bookmakers and fans alike had it nailed on that Manchester City would walk the league. They certainly gave that indication in the opening few months of the campaign.

Manchester City started at a blistering pace, ten wins from ten in all competitions, most notable passing apart Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 2-1 victory, however there were signs then that there may be trouble.

When Manchester City travelled to White Hart lane they were beaten at there own game, Spurs high press and physicality shook Pep’s side and were well beaten 2-0.

Pep demands every player to be flexible, if he had it his way everyone would be a midfielder, but the demands he is asking of some of his players, in my opinion is too much.

One of his problems is when using a 3-4-3 formation, for instance on Saturday the three at the back were Stones, Kolarov and Sagna. Two of the three are not centre backs and while Stones will develop into a very good defender he would have been looked upon to be the leader of those three. Not to mention Zabaleta in central midfield.

He used the same system against Chelsea, albeit with different defenders and once again they were well beaten. Pep is no stranger to doing this, while at Bayern in the Champions League against Barcelona he went three at the back, man to man against Neymar, Suarez and Messi.

They were hopeless, being cut apart by MSN all evening, if it was not for Neuer it could of been worse than the 3-0 score line suggested.

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credit Smabs Sputzer

If switching to this formation Pep gets a result you would think it’s a stroke of genius, so in turn he must take criticism for it, such is the man though, so deep in his beliefs that what he is doing is correct, I am sure Pep will continue with this formation and there will be games that it will work in.

This is where Pep could learn a thing or two from his predecessors, Mancini and Pellegrini, who predominantly favoured 4 at the back and two sat in front. In what is by far the most competitive league Pep has managed in and by far the most competitive the Premiership has been for a long time, this system works for City.

Sergio Aguero has certainly not helped racking up two straight red cards in which he will serve a total of seven games suspended, Iheanacho is a very good young striker but Aguero’s presence will be sorely missed in this important run in over the festive period.

So what next? I am not a football manager, but its clear to see that 3-4-3 with the squad Pep has just isn’t working for them. Seven points from top is still an easy enough swing with the amount of games remaining and there is a possibility that one or two new arrivals could accompany Gabriel Jesus next month.

When Manchester City are in the mood, going forward, they are great to watch with De Bruyne, Silva and a rejuvenated Sterling flying and with the likes of Sane, Gundogan and Yaya Toure they are full of options to open teams up.

Pep is so meticulous and no doubt will get it right at City, but hopefully he isn’t too stubborn to see that change is needed, any further loss of points, with the form of the teams in front of them could be disastrous this season.

Does Guardiola deserve criticism for his tactics? What changes should he make? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by Omnium Cultural