May 19, 2022

Guardiola defends his style: I’m not trying to play beautiful football, I’m trying to win!

December 17, 2016

The Manchester City coach has come under pressure after defeats to Chelsea and Leicester City but says he is as pragmatic as anyone about the way he sets up his teams

Pep Guardiola has issued a staunch defence of his footballing philosophy on the back of a run of form that has seen Manchester City fall seven points behind Chelsea in the Premier League.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach’s tactical preferences have come under scrutiny in recent weeks following defeats to the league-leading Blues and Leicester City.

It has been suggested that an insistence on aggressive pressing and passing the ball out from the back, as well as the use of a three-man defence, has been too much for City’s players to adapt to, but Guardiola claims he is a pragmatist and sets his team up to win, not play beautiful football.

In an interview with Thierry Henry for Sky Sports, Guardiola explained that he refuses to change his methods because they have delivered trophies, not because he sees his preferred brand of football as superior to that of other coaches.

“The people say ‘you have to be more pragmatic, more clinical’. More pragmatic than me? I’m sorry. Like numbers – pragmatic is numbers. When we’re talking about pragmatic we’re not talking about ‘the way’ or something to discuss about football – it’s numbers. And numbers, I am good,” he explained.

“We’re talking about numbers. People say, ‘Pep won in Barcelona, but it was boring’ or, ‘Pep won in the teams in Bayern, but it was boring’. I understand completely, but understand that numbers – goals conceded, goals [scored] make titles and… sorry guys, it was good.”

“People say we want to play our football, our way,” Guardiola added. “That doesn’t mean my football idea is special or different or better than the other ones. I’m sorry guys, I’m sorry – I’m not talking about my football, my idea and the other coaches and managers [makes sweeping motion], they are nothing, I am the special… no, I’m not talking about that.

“It’s the way I believe. Like, Tony Pulis, I appreciate a lot – he took care of me. Tony, you are the best. He took care of me like never a manager has taken care of me before, so… he plays football he believes, and it’s perfect. I am not judging about that.

“[Man City] contacted me to make something I believe. It’s simple like that. I’m not here to make fantastic football for the beauty, I am here to win games. I’m here to make the fans happy when we win the games, to be there fighting for the titles.

“But the way you win titles is in that way. It’s what I did in the past, in the second team of Barcelona, in four years in Barcelona, in three years in Germany and now here.

“I am not judging the other [coaches], what they are going to do. I respect them a lot – I am not talking about ‘they are not good’ – never have I said this in my life. Never. Maybe [my style is] completely different, but that’s the game.

“When you’re playing chess, in the last finals of the Chess World Cup, one plays in one way and the other [another] one. That is what is nice and I came here to prove in that way we can [be successful].”

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