EPL

Guardiola signs City deal: Pep's style of football is addictive says Begiristain

By Sports Desk November 20, 2020

Pep Guardiola is constantly evolving his methods and plays a style of football that is addictive to watch, according to Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain.

City announced on Thursday that the Catalan coach has agreed a new contract that will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

Guardiola is into his fifth season at City - already his longest reign at any club - and has won two Premier League titles, three EFL Cups and the FA Cup.

The Champions League has so far eluded the 49-year-old but Begiristain, who also worked with Guardiola at Barcelona, insists his compatriot has defied all expectations.

"He has taken the club to the top level, the maximum you can get. We wanted to play this attractive football and of course to win and he has done both," he told CityTV. "We have played unbelievable football and we have won. 

"When you do 100 points in the Premier League - such a difficult league - and then in the next one, you have to do 98 to beat an unbelievable team like Liverpool by one… you want to see every weekend and every year the same.

"That kind of perfection you want to feel it every weekend. We have shown ambition since the first day and we have to show that and I can see how the players are working in the training sessions and the games.

"The future of this club is absolutely guaranteed with him and the players we have. He is always in a constant evolution so he is not the same as at Barcelona, he is not the same as at Bayern and he is not the same as his first season [at City].

"He is always evolving, changing and he shows that work to the players and the players are obeying him."

Guardiola won a plethora of honours during his spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich but Begiristain admits even he has been surprised by his close friend's success at City to date, even accounting for an underwhelming 2019-20 campaign.

"It is unbelievable to do two season 198 points. I could see that he could do it but I didn't expect such a big amount of points," he said.

"I told him once when he was in Germany how difficult the Premier League is and you win with 85, 86, 87 points. With those points (100 and 98) even myself I thought it was impossible but he did it."

City strengthened their squad during the transfer window with the arrivals of Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi continues to be linked with a move.

Begiristain feels that City are in safe hands with Guardiola at the helm for a further two years due to his ability to get the most out of every player.

"We already have an unbelievable squad, we are very complete," he said. "We have a lot of top players.

"The life of this club is always changing, there are some players asking to leave, there are players who think they should be playing more than the other ones. 

"This is the natural life of a squad. What is good is having Pep is quite easy to convince the players to come, because we have to recognise as well that Pep makes the players better, so they can see an improvement. That helps to sign the players for us.

"We are showing the same ambition since the first day. We can show that. I can see how the players are running and working on the training sessions and on the games.

"So I'm very happy to see that and the future of the team is quality with him and the squad we have."

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  • Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play? Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play?

    Thiago Alcantara is a rather unique breed of footballer, the type of player who will be almost universally enjoyed such are his breath-taking technical attributes.

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    But the fact is, Liverpool's record in Premier League games he has featured in is quite poor, with only one of those six ending in a victory.

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    One of Hamann's major reservations related to Thiago's desire to dictate play and how he might, in the long run, negatively impact Liverpool's effectiveness off the ball.

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    The supply line

    Then there's the concerns relating to Thiago's style of play potentially impacting supply to the frontline. Well, the Reds average 18.7 shots per game when he plays (up from 14.9 without him).

    There is also no damning evidence to suggest Thiago isn't looking to feed the forwards either, after all, he passed to Mohamed Salah 11 times (a joint high) against Manchester United last weekend.

    He has picked out Salah 36 times in their 365 minutes on the pitch together – so, once every 10.1 minutes. Although that's less frequent than he passes to Trent Alexander-Arnold (once per every 8.2 minutes) and Andy Robertson (8.8 minutes), it shows he is supplying the Reds' most-threatening forward regularly.

    And while the two full-backs had off days against Burnley, can you really blame Thiago for passing to them often? Since the start of last season, they are Liverpool's leading providers of shooting opportunities.

    Additionally, his 14.9 passes into final third of the pitch per 90 minutes is second only to Jordan Henderson (16.2) among Liverpool players this term – Thiago beats him, and every other Red, in terms of successful passes in the attacking third every game, however (25.8, compared to Henderson's 20.5).

    "He's not that type of player"

    It's fair to say Thiago probably isn't best known for what he brings to teams off the ball, but despite some seemingly questioning him in this department, he appears to be at least pulling his weight.

    In fact, he's averaging marginally more tackles per 90 minutes than Henderson (1.5 over 1.4), while no one in the Liverpool team is intercepting opposition passes as frequently as the Barcelona product (2.8 per 90 mins).

    On top of that, he's ranked third in the squad for duel involvements (14.7 per 90 mins) – while not necessarily an indicator of excellence on its own, that should at the very least dispel any questions regarding his work rate.

    On an individual level when you look at the data, Thiago doesn't appear to be out of place stylistically. While he may occasionally spend more time on the ball than some of his midfield contemporaries, he possesses the kind of technical wizardry that arguably no other Liverpool player has and that is surely a positive rather than a negative.

    He's also clearly a hard-working player who offers plenty off the ball. So, while the Reds are going through a tricky patch at the moment, Thiago's abilities should be embraced rather than looked upon with suspicion.

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