21 Oct Pep’s way or no way
Pep Guardiola claims he would rather quit Manchester City than change his methods and insists Sergio Aguero has a big future under him.
The City manager has launched a passionate defence of his approach in the wake of his side’s humbling 4-0 Champions League loss at Barcelona, a result which extended their winless run to four games.
Guardiola spoke for 32 minutes as his modus operandi was questioned at a press conference ostensibly to preview Sunday’s game against Southampton.
The main talking points from the Nou Camp loss were the sending off of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo after a dreadful error while trying to play Guardiola’s way and the omission of top scorer Aguero. That led to further questioning of the tactics Guardiola chose to deploy and the side he selected.
Asked if he ever thought of changing his plans, the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss said: “I think about that, yes, but after that the solution is not better than what I believe. So I cannot.
“Do you know why? Because in seven years I won 21 titles. So it’s three titles per year playing in that way.
“But if you believe I arrive here and in three months everything is going well and I’m going to win in the Camp Nou 0-4, I’m going to dominate against Messi and Luis Suarez, and Neymar is going to create nothing, and Iniesta isn’t going to play good, no.
“I’m good, but it’s not enough! No, I’m not going to change.
“If it’s not going well in the future, if next season isn’t going well in that way, I will go home. So, it doesn’t change.”
Guardiola earned plaudits after City opened the season with 10 successive wins but the latest sequence has brought some criticism.
Responding to his critics, Guardiola said: “One of my friends, (Everton manager) Ronald Koeman said in a press conference he never played a team like Manchester City playing football like this.
“Sorry, that is the best title for me, the best compliment I ever received. An opponent who loves football, who understands it, said ‘Wow, they play good and were unlucky’.”
The absence of Aguero, who has scored 11 goals this season, from the starting line-up in Barcelona was a surprise. Guardiola justified it by saying he wanted to play more midfielders but, after the plan backfired, some observers have suggested it could be the beginning of the end for the prolific Argentinian at the club.
Guardiola said: “I spoke with Sergio, we talked about that. He was so understanding and helped us a lot from the bench and in the last minutes if the game was close, the last 30-35 minutes and their central defenders were tried, I thought Sergio could help us a lot.
“When Sergio decides to leave Manchester City, it will be his decision. I appreciate him as a football player and appreciate as a man what he did here.
“The next time, before you give your opinion and you decide he is not in my plans, you can call me before you write.”
Guardiola was also keen to put the record straight on captain Vincent Kompany’s non-appearance in Barcelona, insisting he had not been dropped. Kompany returned from a groin injury as a substitute against Everton last weekend but did not make the matchday squad at the Nou Camp.
Guardiola said: “Normally Vincent Kompany would be on the bench but he was not fit. When he is fit he’s a real central defender, I like him, but we tried to take care of him. He went to the doctors in Barcelona to say, ‘I’m not able to play’.”
Guardiola also defended Bravo, who was controversially signed as long-time number one Joe Hart’s replacement in August primarily because of his superior footwork.
Bravo got himself sent off after coming out of his area and handling after misdirecting a pass straight to Luis Suarez.
He said: “I knew from the beginning when Claudio made a mistake he would be on the front page.
“Every goalkeeper, every defender in the world, every striker missing penalties, makes mistakes but Claudio has to fight against that.
“The decision was not wrong in that moment but the action… he did not pass good and that can happen.”