Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (2nd L) celebrates with his players on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester City at the John Smith’s stadium in Huddersfield, northern England on November 26, 2017. Manchester City won the game 2-1. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF /
Pep Guardiola believes his style of play is gaining traction across English football after he experienced a tough first season with Manchester City.
Guardiola is pleased to see the high-possession, high-pressing and high-intensity approach he espouses has found popularity elsewhere in the Premier League, complimenting both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur on the way they play.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss saw his style questioned as he struggled to make an early impact at the Etihad Stadium, suffering the first trophyless season of his coaching career last term as City 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 trophy quadruple.
Having faced suggestions his style could not work in England, Guardiola is delighted to have proved his critics wrong, adding he loves to see other teams playing his way.
“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,” he said.
“Barcelona, I love to watch, first because I am a fan of the club, I grew up there, and especially because we are in a 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, City’s opponents on Sunday, in the list of high-quality attacking teams in the Premier League.
“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 1980s, 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 they are currently 15 points clear at the top, yet Guardiola has warned it is still possible.
“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.”
The Spaniard added: “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.
“You will always be judged on the result. I always try to say to the players: ‘Don’t read too much about what is done’.
“It is simple: Just focus on the next game. That is the best advice I can give to my players. That’s the reason why I’m here — to talk to them.”