Pep Guardiola has come in for criticism after Manchester City’s defeat to Liverpool.
It has been a fine start to the season from City, but they champions came unstuck on Sunday, suffering their first loss against a Liverpool side desperate to recover from a poor beginning to the campaign.
City saw a goal ruled out early in the first half, but they gave up a number of clear-cut chances, one of which Mohamed Salah took in latter stages. The winger’s goal came from a kick from Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, which split City open before Salah raced away with a neat turn.
Liverpool still have plenty of ground to make up, but City are now four points behind leaders Arsenal, who have impressed in the opening months of the campaign.
As for why the game played out the way it did, former City defender Danny Mills believes it may have been a result of Guardiola overcomplicating his tactics. “It’s not really been talked about but, Man City, Pep overthinking it? Over-tinkering? The first 15-20 minutes I couldn’t work out their formation,” Mills said on Sky Sports’ Football Show.
“I was really struggling... ‘is it three at the back, four at the back?’. It seemed to keep changing, flipping back and forwards and I was thinking ‘is Phil Foden playing left-wing-back?’. It seemed a bit odd at times and I think that played into Liverpool’s hands.
“This gets labelled at Guardiola quite a bit. He’s one of the best coaches the world has ever seen, but we’ve seen it in big games, he overthinks it at times. He changed the formation to something they don’t really play and, as I said earlier, I was struggling to work out what they were playing early on.
“When you change that and players are used to playing in a certain way, however good they are going forward… it was a back three, a back four, a back five, that’s not helpful in big games like that. I think it gave Liverpool the impetus to think they could get at this City side.
“There were several examples in the first half where they were breaking away and Liverpool had the extra man going forward. Once you get your tails up, it’s very difficult for Man City to come back from that.”