A tinker too far by Guardiola?

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May 30, 2021
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    Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: City showed 'courage' in Champions League final – Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola was in a pragmatic mood following Manchester City's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, but was it one tinker too many by the City boss?

    Having seen his side sweep aside many challengers both in Europe and on their way to the Premier League title, Guardiola sprung a surprise with his team selection in Porto.

    He left out captain Fernandinho and fellow holding midfielder Rodri from his starting line-up and instead chose to play the more attack-minded Bernardo Silva alongside Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.

    The outcome was that City never really managed to get a grip on midfield throughout the game, their defence was exposed while their attack was also hampered as they finished the game on the wrong end of 1-0 defeat having managed just a single shot on target in 97 minutes.

    Guardiola has been known to adjust his team selection to try and outfox his opponents.

    Asked why he made the changes he did for this game, he replied: "I did the best in the selection.

    "Against Lyon [in 2020] like it was against PSG, Dortmund, I tried the selection the best to win the game. The players know it, I think Ilkay Gundogan played good, we were exceptional."

    But was it the wrong decision? Or did Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel simply have the measure of him?

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    "I think [tinkering too much] will be levelled at him because he changed the way he had played all season," former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

    "He has always had Rodri or Fernandinho in there but he changed it. We know tactically he tinkers, he might have seen a weakness in there but Thomas Tuchel nullified any threat.

    "We saw Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling played really wide, they've not really done that this season and maybe that is something City did wrong."

    'This might make him determined to get Harry Kane'

    Pep Guardiola walks past the Champions League trophyPep Guardiola had led Manchester City to the Champions League final for the first time in their history

    Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton felt City players should also shoulder some of the blame for failing to put in a performance.

    "Where do Manchester City go from here? This was the one Pep Guardiola wanted to win, they did not turn up on the night," he said on BBC Radio 5 live.

    "A team as talented as City, they did not work Edouard Mendy enough tonight and that will be of real frustration for them."

    However, Sutton had said prior to kick-off that not starting Fernandinho would prove to be a mistake.

    "You need your leaders and Fernandinho is that," he said.

    "Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were enforcers and he can drag their team up, you want him standing next to you in the trenches."

    For ex-Everton and West Ham midfielder Don Hutchison, the defeat highlighted just how much Manchester City need an out-and-out striker for next season.

    "Pep will take a lot of criticism and I am a big fan," he said on BBC Radio 5 live. "I don't consider this a failure – yes, it is the big one but I hope he doesn't come under too much criticism.

    "This might sharpen Pep's mind and he might say if I am going to win the Champions League, I need 30 goals a season, I need Harry Kane."

    'Magician' Tuchel trumps Pep again

    To put it down to Guardiola just getting it wrong would also downplay the fact that Tuchel has not just got the better of the City boss once this season, or even twice, but three times.

    Tuchel took charge of Chelsea in January but in that time he has overseen victories against Guardiola's side in the FA Cup, Premier League and now the Champions League.

    "To do what he has done coming halfway through the season is nothing short of a magician," Ferdinand added.

    "He has come into this country and played Pep Guardiola's side three times this season and won all three."

    'A genius but he got it wrong' – what you said

    James in London: More often than not, football is an unexpected game, perhaps Pep thought it was too much about him this evening. This is why we all love it so much, and it's only going to get better with the Euros in June!

    Irfan: As a Bayern fan, I felt Guardiola was great for tactical excellence and discipline across the season. But something was missing in the top, top moments in Europe. It feels the same today.

    Khan Karn: Pep is a genius but he got it wrong tonight, had to start with Aguero. Toothless up front. Those half-chances would have been converted by Aguero. Commiserations.

    Tom Hosier: People need to start respecting Tuchel a lot more. Tactically spot on against Man City three times now! The impact he has had since coming in has been insane!

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    110 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • M

      Comment posted by mustardcustard, today at 00:52

      It just goes to show that the whole Pep mania is a myth, he has always has the riches to buy the best at Barca, Bayern and at City. This is a man who paid £41m for Nathan Ake, just think about that for a second.

      The last 20 minutes of the final were truly shocking. We could have been watching a Sam Allardyce team simply hoofing it long, with Kyle Walker long throw ins into the bargain.184

      • Y

        Reply posted by Youwhat, today at 02:11

        "It just goes to show that the whole Pep mania is a myth, he has always has the riches to buy the best at Barca, Bayern and at City. This is a man who paid £41m for Nathan Ake, just think about that for a second.The last 20 minutes of the final were truly shocking. We could have been watching a Sam Allardyce team simply hoofing it long, with Kyle Walker long throw ins into the bargain."Youwhat replied: What the frigg was he and city playing at 😳00

    • L

      Comment posted by LuThe, today at 00:55

      Of course Pep got it wrong. As he’s done previously in CL at crucial junctures. Out-thinking himself when the solution was simply to do what had got them before to quarter/semis, and this time the final.

      Why drop Fern/Rodri? Result: no cohesion from back to front, no cover for CB’s, no competition for Kante & co in the middle.

      Spursy? No ‘Pepsy’ = to ruin what’s working for no fathomable reason.130

      • L

        Reply posted by Lets Agree To Disagree, today at 01:10

        "Of course Pep got it wrong. As he’s done previously in CL at crucial junctures. Out-thinking himself when the solution was simply to do what had got them before to quarter/semis, and this time the final.Why drop Fern/Rodri? Result: no cohesion from back to front, no cover for CB’s, no competition for Kante & co in the middle.Spursy? No ‘Pepsy’ = to ruin what’s working for no fathomable reason."Lets Agree To Disagree replied: Guardiola needs to trust what has worked and bought him to this point and apply the principle of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.70

    • D

      Comment posted by Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC, today at 01:05

      Never understood why Guardiola always gets away from what has worked for him up to that point and tries new formations/tactics in the most important games? Every time he does this it backfires on him.110

      • L

        Reply posted by LondonCri, today at 01:27

        "Never understood why Guardiola always gets away from what has worked for him up to that point and tries new formations/tactics in the most important games? Every time he does this it backfires on him."LondonCri replied: I feel he tends to act with that air of grandeur that follows him in mind .62

    • K

      Comment posted by kickabout, today at 01:14

      He’s a fraud. Had the best squad in the world ar Barcelona then Messi came through to top it off. Took Bayern backwards on the European stage and then spent years and billions of pounds at Manchester City trying to win the champions league and at the final hurdle completely messed with team selection and tactics.144

      • D

        Reply posted by DR1, today at 01:17

        "He’s a fraud. Had the best squad in the world ar Barcelona then Messi came through to top it off. Took Bayern backwards on the European stage and then spent years and billions of pounds at Manchester City trying to win the champions league and at the final hurdle completely messed with team selection and tactics."DR1 replied: Couldn’t agree more!72

      More replies (1)

    • M

      Comment posted by Maso73, today at 01:04

      I am not a fan of either club but if I were to pick the best manager and best managed team in the EPL, it is Leeds. When did Pep manage a team with low budget squad and win with development and strategy?133

    • S

      Comment posted by SteveFEditor, today at 00:35

      Most City fans will have been able to name the side that could have won the game… it would have included Fernandinho, but not Sterling. That being said, congratulations to Chelsea… they deserved it on the night…122

      • K

        Reply posted by killingjoke, today at 00:49

        "Most City fans will have been able to name the side that could have won the game… it would have included Fernandinho, but not Sterling. That being said, congratulations to Chelsea… they deserved it on the night…"killingjoke replied: Spot on and thats what makes this loss so much harder to accept, faced with that team selection every City fan knew what was coming, its simple, pick Sterling, lose, Pep handed this cup on a plate to Chelsea with an absolute shambles, De Bruyne, Foden nulified by his tactics and Mahrez up for sale no wonder he was quiet, a masterclass in how to make a mess of a cup final61

    • R

      Comment posted by Rickiesredarmy, today at 00:50

      You think he would have learned his lesson from previous tinkering. Maybe not – on their biggest ever night. Weird. Kudos to Tuchel though- completely owned Pep – again.90

    • M

      Comment posted by Mike, today at 01:22

      Tough situation for Pep, really. It’s impossible to name the right team when the opponent has N’Golo Kante91

      • H

        Reply posted by Honest discussion, today at 02:03

        "Tough situation for Pep, really. It’s impossible to name the right team when the opponent has N’Golo Kante"Honest discussion replied: He’s unbelievable. Just as when you see Messi beat a player, and wonder how did he do that? So it is with Kante’s tackles. It’s surely going to be a free kick, but no, somehow he made the tackle from a seemingly impossible angle. As a CDM, he is the GOAT.10

      More replies (1)

    • A

      Comment posted by ani4ani, today at 00:56

      I’m no Chelsea fan, but they were a better team and City were poor; they won the league at a canter but only because the rest, for the majority of the season were well below par.

      KDB and Stirling were very poor tonight.103

      • C

        Reply posted by Celts, today at 01:44

        "I’m no Chelsea fan, but they were a better team and City were poor; they won the league at a canter but only because the rest, for the majority of the season were well below par.KDB and Stirling were very poor tonight."Celts replied: Pep absolutely bottled it with his team selection.00

    • S

      Comment posted by squarewindow, today at 01:30

      Haha Mason Mount “we’re the best team in the world” – were Villa the best team in the world last week then?93

      • M

        Reply posted by mcjimmeroonibles, today at 02:00

        "Haha Mason Mount “we’re the best team in the world” – were Villa the best team in the world last week then?"mcjimmeroonibles replied: Surely that would be WBA.10

    • F

      Comment posted by footnote, today at 01:10

      James had Sterling in his pocket , Kante ran the midfield , De Bruyne Foden Gundogan created nothing despite all the hype .82

      • T

        Reply posted by The Spin Doctor, today at 01:13

        "James had Sterling in his pocket , Kante ran the midfield , De Bruyne Foden Gundogan created nothing despite all the hype ."The Spin Doctor replied: And a good thing too. James will not get very far with Dollars, Euros or Rupees in his pocket. :)51

      More replies (1)

    • L

      Comment posted by Localist, today at 01:00

      Seems odd doing the individual prizes before the end of the season. Even with the FA Cup final loss, surely Tuchel should be manager of the year given what he’s achieved in his tenure?71

    • S

      Comment posted by sirjc, today at 01:24

      Pep selection was horrific … no Rodri or Fernandino in starting 11. Aguero 15 mins …. Really. Same crap against Lyon last year. Tuchel has his #.50

      • H

        Reply posted by HABlet, today at 01:45

        "Pep selection was horrific … no Rodri or Fernandino in starting 11. Aguero 15 mins …. Really. Same crap against Lyon last year. Tuchel has his #."HABlet replied: How can Tuchel have Pep’s number when the latter did something totally unexpected ? Illogical, captain.00

    • K

      Comment posted by killingjoke, today at 01:18

      What was Guardiola thinking, play the same as all season tried and tested that blew the prem away, or tinker around, playing your best players out of position nulifying them and the leave out the current form player Fernadinho out and play Sterling who currently has zero form, every recent match he has featured in City lose, baffling, Peps reputation took a knock tonight with this shambles61

    • M

      Comment posted by Milky Bar Senior Citizen, today at 00:58

      Would love to have seen an interview with Frank Lampard at the final whistle.61

      • Removed comment

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    • 1

      Comment posted by 1 on 1, today at 01:13

      He got away with playing without a striker for most of the season. Playing the champions league final without a defensive midfielder is an error he will never make again.40

      • K

        Reply posted by killingjoke, today at 01:21

        "He got away with playing without a striker for most of the season. Playing the champions league final without a defensive midfielder is an error he will never make again."killingjoke replied: Not so sure, made a similar mess of of a relatively easy tie with Lyon40

    • K

      Comment posted by killingjoke, today at 00:44

      Pep to say you got it wrong is an understatement the words City fans want here is sorry, its funny the first other match you mention is Lyon, the sign of true inteligence is learning from your mistakes51

    • U

      Comment posted by U19667911, today at 00:41

      The longer they keep thinking sterling is actually good the better cos he’s taking up a place in the team that some other player they would buy for 70m or something could be taking who may actually make a difference and not choke every game vs a team thats not a relegation candidate62

      • K

        Reply posted by killingjoke, today at 00:53

        "The longer they keep thinking sterling is actually good the better cos he’s taking up a place in the team that some other player they would buy for 70m or something could be taking who may actually make a difference and not choke every game vs a team thats not a relegation candidate"killingjoke replied: Hopefully gone in the summer, maybe a championship team would give him a start12

    • H

      Comment posted by Honest discussion, today at 01:44

      No defensive midfielder?? What a clown!41

      • J

        Reply posted by Joe King, today at 01:58

        "No defensive midfielder?? What a clown!"Joe King replied: I’m sure City Football Group Limited will be waiting for your application for the manager job10

    • B

      Comment posted by BigWoodenSpoon, today at 01:30

      Yet again Pep has had another season of failure. He was brought in to win the CL. He hasn’t done it. Again.

      I can see another huge amount of cash being splashed this Summer. Should he ever win the CL with City, the win is getting more and more hollow every season.41

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