Pep Guardiola still has Man City striker question to answer even if he doesn’t want to

Pep Guardiola’s frustrations were more than understandable as he finally cracked at the relentlessly fickle nature of football.

In the early weeks of the season when Manchester City failed to score against Tottenham and Southampton all the discourse centred on the club’s failure to replace Sergio Aguero in the summer and whether they could still win the Premier League title without a clinical goalscorer – which ignored the fact they pretty much did last season.

Now, however, after a week in which City have scored 11 goals in three games, Guardiola is being asked if he doesn’t need one after all.

“Sky, I want to tell you something,” he told a Sky Sports reporter who had posed that very theory after the 4-1 victory over Brighton.


“One day we’ll lose and you’ll ask me do you need a striker. I bet you whatever you want. I don’t buy this question.”

He is right, of course. The next time City fall to a narrow defeat and their array of attacking talent has missed several gilt-edged chances, the post-match punditry diatribes and Twitter spats will no doubt circle on how much they should have gone all out for Harry Kane and that Erling Haaland should be the number one priority.

His tiredness of being repeatedly asked about a striker, especially when there is nothing that can be done about at present, is completely justified … and yet, the question must still be ratling in his mind and it’s one that he will have to answer soon.

Not the one if City actually need a new striker in the team. They clearly do. Even if City’s quality will put it off for a while, it isn’t sustainable to not have a natural, out-and-out No.9 in the club. At times they will just need a player who, when it’s needed most, can be relied upon to stick the ball in the back of the net.

In the dying moments of a game with City a goal down, you wouldn’t trust any of the current attacking crop with your life to 100% score.

That is needed.

But those scenarios are so few and far between for City, do they need to sacrifice how well they play to incorporate a striker into the starting XI week in, week out?

One of the key reasons City are playing such scintillating football at the moment is because they don’t have a striker. With either Jack Grealish or Phil Foden playing in the middle of the front three, there is much more fluidity in attack. Players are constantly able to move, swap positions and come deep to collect the ball which creates a lot more gaps to exploit as defenders can get dragged all over the place.

With a striker, that instead becomes a fixed point in the attack which makes it much easier for defenders to predict the patterns of play. If City spend big on a striker they may get a more guaranteed source of goals, but their ability to create the actual chances may be depleted.

A Haaland or Kane would have to start the vast majority of matches and would change the new style that City have developed over the last 18-months which has proven so devastating.

A strike is definitely needed, but perhaps one that doesn’t cost quite as much and won’t need to start every game would be a better option, so Guardiola has more freedom to play without one?

It’s a question only the manager will be able to answer.

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