'Pep Guardiola doesn't have the players to do what he wants to do at Man City,' says Guillem Balague
Last Updated: 16/01/17 11:50pm
Pep Guardiola is struggling at Man City because he does not have the right type of players to carry out his tactics, according to Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
City lost 4-0 at Everton on Super Sunday, their fifth Premier League defeat of the season, to slip out of the Champions League positions.
However, Balague - who wrote Guardiola’s biography, ‘Another way of winning’ - feels the club are partly to blame for their current plight following a poor recent recruitment policy, with the City manager hamstrung by the players he now has at his disposal.
“When you go from winning 5-0 at West Ham to losing 4-0 at Everton, the first conclusion you make is that this does not look like a Pep Guardiola team,” he told Sky Sports.
A chef cannot provide the best food without the right ingredients and he does not have the players for what he needs
“And the next question is: can he sort it out and take it to a place where it looks more like a Pep Guardiola team? And that is a leap of faith.
“Most people are saying he is failing because this is a completely different league. I believe this is part of a process where he is getting to know the players and the league.
"What is happening, I think, is that a chef cannot provide the best food without the right ingredients and he does not have the players for what he needs.
“So the club will have to take responsibility for that and make better signings in the summer. Or not miss on some like they did with Laporte”
Balague also believes that the former trophy-laden Barcelona boss is finding it a fascinating challenge to adapt to the unique demands of English football.
“Control - of the games and the world around players - for him is very, very important,” he said. “But it is a very emotional league with fans affecting performances and referees not being consistent, which balances things out.
"It is harder to control games when long balls are played so often. All and all it is a different test to the ones he has had before and he has admitted that privately and publicly. He came to England exactly for that”
Finally, though, Balague thinks the expectations placed on Guardiola in his debut campaign at the Etihad have been too great, a knock-on effect of that being the over-the-top reaction to Sunday’s loss at Goodison Park given City are still just three points behind second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and third-in-the-table Liverpool.
“Thirdly there is a problem of expectations - a lot of people thought Guardiola is coming in and will change football, but did he ever say that? No, he said I want to see what I can do, I want to change,” said Balague.
“Then there is the other side of expectations in that every defeat is an excuse for many to say he is failing, but he is failing at what? They are just two points off Arsenal and three from Liverpool and Spurs, and everybody is talking so well about Liverpool and Spurs, so it is not so bad.
“The fact that Chelsea are 10 points away is explained because they do not play European competition at the moment and it is interesting that there is so much negative press towards Pep based on what people thought he should do, rather than an analysis of what he has on his hands.
“And in terms of ingredients and players, that is one of the keys - has he got what he needs? Probably not.
“He played with only two new players at Everton, the rest were players from last season that we will agree were on their last legs or lacking something. They have an average age of 28.
"Also, and that is my view of course, I think some players cannot or will not do what he wants them to do, which obviously doesn't help. It is easier to deal with young players if you want to mould them to an idea.
“So all in all, the ideas are there, the corrections have to be applied, he obviously has to learn from the experience, but has he got the ingredients to take the team where he wants?”