Pep Guardiola suggests easiest solution to recurring Man City problem
The chuckle and shake of the head that came before Pep Guardiola’s answer on Manchester City’s consistency in front of goal said a lot.
Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad was plagued by the team misfiring in front of goal and gifting goals at the other end of the pitch, with the problem getting so bad that the manager locked himself in his office following a 1-1 draw at the start of his second campaign when he feared a repeat.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak stepped in that night to reassure the coach, and – despite failing to land Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal to improve matters – the chairman was right as the team won the next 18 league games on their way to their first of successive league titles.
This season, however, the problem has returned. It was evident in City’s first home game of the season when they absolutely bullied Spurs but only scored two from their 30 attempts on goal and conceded two from Tottenham’s three. And it was evident again on Sunday when they scored none of their 26 efforts to lose 1-0 at Southampton for their ninth league defeat in 33 games.
“I would say, we are the team which scored more goals in the Premier League, so we are not a bad team at scoring goals,” Guardiola said, correctly.
“But even with that always you had the feeling that we create a lot for the goals we convert. But at the end, the most difficult part in football is to score a goal – it’s the most difficult one.
“The only solution when you create 26 chances and have 26 shots – you have to do 35. And if 35 is not enough to do 40. And if 40 is not enough you have to do 45. When we play teams it is the way we play it and create more and create more and create more and try to concede as less as possible.”
If scoring remains the most difficult art in the game, City would be helped by a stronger backline. The defence was immense last season in the run-in as it gave the team a platform for victory, with just the one goal needed to beat Burnley, Leicester and Tottenham in the final five matches.
City have been weakened by the departure of Vincent Kompany and injury to Aymeric Laporte. Nevertheless, Guardiola insists that more care at the back would be an easy way to reduce the pressure on the front half of the team.
“It’s a little bit easy as well to not make a mistake that we do in our first step. So you have to make a build up but always you have to realise knowing the risks that you take and you have to live with that feeling if you lose the ball it will be dangerous,” he said.
“But we did it in the past. This season in some games we struggled.
“We have to have to review the goals we concede – we give them [away] and we have to try to avoid it. if you want to get to the final of the FA Cup and go through the Champions League, we must improve on this detail – to give the opponents a fight and [make them] do good things to score goals, not give them [away] will be not able to reach the next step.”