Pep’s More Subtle Tactics

Guardiola might dazzle with his tiki-taka, high pressing flavor of football but there are other more subtle and negative tactics the Spanish coach utilizes to give his team an extra edge. Plenty of managers have complained publicly about the various sneaky tactics used by Pep but he has denied it at every turn. Nevertheless, it’s quite clear what Pep is doing under the hood.

Tactical Fouls

Guardiola has arguably revolutionized tactical fouling. All teams do it at some point to stop a dangerous counter-attack but Pep has found a way to weaponize it. Once they have lost possession, City players will run at their opponents like mad dogs to stop them from attacking and quite often, they make minor fouls in areas that might not look dangerous to stop the play.

Tactical fouls are usually a non-negotiable yellow card but since the fouls look minor or are done in areas that might not seem dangerous, Pep’s players often escape that punishment.  If you do this once or twice during the game, it’s no problem but City do it quite often to break up play and thus this type of tactical fouling plays a big part in their success since the opponent is stifled and City players rarely get yellow carded.

Pellegrini, Solskjaer, Mourinho and others have complained about it but Pep always denied it. Even the numbers seemed to be in Pep’s favor so we might have given him the benefit of the doubt until new signing Rodri spilled the beans about what’s really going on.

I think it’s a big challenge for me because I never used to play this position particularly. I didn’t have this exact role in the team.

 

We have lots of offensive players and many other teams try to counter-attack you and a lot of the time you’re alone but it’s good for me.

 

I am learning new things, how to go, when to stay, when I have to do a tactical foul, when I have to jump.

 

It’s good for me to learn these things. And for the team it’s good because we need those offensive players to be able to play our game.

Mind Games

Pep sometimes delivers subtle taunts during pre-game interviews, which, at a first glance, look harmless, but when you think about it, the aim is surely to destabilize some players, managers or refs.

The most recent case is a few days ago when he called Liverpool’s Sadio Mane a diver, right before a crucial top of the table clash between the two teams. This is clearly a calculated statement to try to influence the referees to pay special attention to Sadio Mane, Liverpool’s best player, on Sunday.

This is not unheard of in the game. Plenty of managers have used this tactic to get their message across. Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson and even Arsene Wenger have used press conferences to play mind games with opponents.

Diving

Funny Guardiola should mention “diving” as a worry for Sunday’s clash when his Barcelona side was renowned for the very same act. At some point, it became so ridiculous that fake comedic videos were being made of La Masia teaching Barcelona players how to roll on the ground and fake injuries. While this was definitely an exaggeration, Pep’s team have often been criticized for excessive diving and rightly so.

 

All this shows the attention to detail that Pep brings to his club. These low-key techniques which repeatedly affect minor details during games thereby increasing the probability of winning games are what differentiates top managers from the rest!

 

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