How 4-0 defeat to Everton in 2017 inspired Manchester City’s changes
Everton are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday
Last Updated: 11/12/18 9:41pm
Manchester City host Everton on Saturday, the opponents who inflicted on Pep Guardiola not only the worst defeat of his City reign but the worst of his coaching career to date.
Here, we revisit that 4-0 reverse at Goodison Park and explore why that loss was the catalyst for change that led City on their journey to becoming Premier League champions.
What happened on the day?
City went into the game well rested with their previous fixture coming nine days earlier away to West Ham in the FA Cup - a game they won 5-0. But it did not help them as they were crushed 4-0 by Everton with Romelu Lukaku opening the scoring late in the first half.
Kevin Mirallas doubled the lead after the break before Tom Davies scored a brilliant third. Ademola Lookman came off the bench to make it four in stoppage time and complete a humiliating defeat for Guardiola up against his old Barcelona team-mate Ronald Koeman.
This was the heaviest ever league defeat of Guardiola and also Everton's biggest ever Premier League victory over Manchester City. Remarkably, they achieved the feat by scoring with all four of their shots on target.
The result all but ended City's title hopes as it left them 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, but the bigger concern was their top-four prospects. Guardiola's men were also adrift of Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal after 21 games of the Premier League season.
What did Guardiola say?
"I suffer for my players," Guardiola told Sky Sports afterwards. "Exceptional situations over the last seven years have always been there and always winning is exceptional but sometimes it is living this kind of situation.
"It is not for me that it is hard because like all the managers and teams in the world, they try to do their best and are fighting and the managers work as much as possible. The only way I know, like all football players and as a manager right now, is to work harder. Now we have one week, you think about what you can do to be better.
"In the bad moments we have to be close. I have said to the players to be positive because you have done fantastic things and for many reasons, we didn't get what I think we deserve, but I think all the managers can say that. We are going to try and keep going.
"We made a good performance in the first half. We created enough chances to score a goal and then they arrive once and they score.
"In the second moment at the start of the second half, they scored again and that is tough mentally for the players. We insisted for a long time that things started against Everton at home when we missed two penalties and after that it was many games where we created chances and do not score.
"With the 2-0 score, they defended with the players behind and used the counter-attack and everything that happened in the last minute is the last minute. The consequence of the game is that it is an example of many of the games that have happened this season.
"In football, you sometimes don't need to do many things to win the game so they arrive once to score the goal and we arrived many times. It is not today that it is worse, it is almost all the season with these things. It is tough to once again handle the situation."
What happened next?
City lost only one of remaining 16 Premier League games that season, finishing the campaign on a high with four consecutive wins in which they scored a total of 15 goals. It was enough to secure third spot and Champions League football.
The ramifications of the Everton defeat played their part in the turnaround. It was the fourth game in seven in which City had conceded from their first shot on target as Claudio Bravo's miserable form continued to undermine the team's efforts. The Chilean was finally dropped later that month, but he was not the only one to be ushered out.
Pablo Zabaleta, used in an unfamiliar midfield role against Everton, made only two more Premier League starts for the club before departing. Bacary Sagna managed four. Gael Clichy did see more action but the trio of ageing full-backs were all moved on in the summer.
Guardiola introduced more pace to his defence in the following season and, with the acquisition of Ederson, City solved their goalkeeping problem too. The team that lost 4-0 to Everton was transformed and the rest is history.