Pep Guardiola has suggested that English football is coming round to his way of thinking after a difficult first season at Manchester City.
Guardiola is pleased to see that the high-possession, high-pressing and high-intensity style he espouses has found popularity elsewhere in the Premier League, complimenting Sunday’s opponents Liverpool on the way they play, as well as Tottenham.
City’s manager faced scrutiny of his style as he struggled to make an early impact at the Etihad Stadium, suffering the first trophy-less season of his coaching career as they finished third in the table. The transformation this season has been remarkable, with City having dropped just four points in 22 league matches as they remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple.
Having faced suggestions that his style could not work in England, Guardiola is delighted to have proved his critics wrong, adding that he loves to see teams playing his way.
He said: “I like that, because more than a manager, I’m a fan. When I have to choose, those are the type of teams I like to watch.
“Barcelona, I love to watch, first because I am a fan of the club, I grew up there, and especially because we are in an unmissable period in terms of seeing their great players, especially one [Lionel Messi]. I am happy that in Italy, Napoli are playing in a quite similar way. I identify quite well with how they play and how they want to do things.
“It’s the same with Tottenham. Tottenham can drop points, but always I see the games and think they played well. You always see they have 20, 25, 27 shots on target. And you see that and say ‘wow’.”
Guardiola includes Liverpool on the list of high-quality attacking teams in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side have scored 50 goals in the competition this season, a total that only City can better.
“I think Liverpool are playing like Liverpool were in the past, with all their history,” Guardiola said. “The fans are demanding attacking football. Liverpool have to defend their whole history.
“In the eighties, they dominated the world and European football. I think they are trying to respect that.
“Some teams try to sit back against us. Liverpool played well against us. They tried. We want to do something quite similar. We want to try to be the best.”
Few would expect City to stumble in this season’s contest for the Premier League title, given that they are so far clear with only 15 matches to play, yet Guardiola has warned that it is still possible. He added: “In football and in sport, anything can happen. Of course we can lose the title, because you never know what is going to happen in the next 13 or 14 games.
“If we maintain our level, the consistency and the way we play, then OK, we have a chance. But you never know.
“If we start to go down, and lose confidence, and don’t play well regularly, then we will see.
“Maybe that is going to happen, and I am going to shake the hand of my opponents and congratulate them for being champions.”
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