Football

Pundits slam City manager Pep Guardiola for overthinking his tactics

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand criticised Pep Guardiola for deviating from his usual tactics, following Manchester City's 3-1 defeat by Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals yesterday morning (Singapore time).

City abandoned their offensive 4-3-3 for a more conservative 3-5-2, which meant Guardiola had to leave creative players like David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden on the bench.

"Guardiola has to look at himself for his selection and how he changes his formation," pundit Ferdinand told BT Sport.

"The most creative players were off the pitch and they looked much better when Mahrez came on."

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy concurred, adding that City would have won had Guardiola stuck to his usual line-up.

"I know they've had problems with Lyon in previous group games, but I was still amazed when I saw City's starting team," Murphy wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"Instead of five defensive-minded players and five attack-minded players as Pep normally plays, he chose seven defensive-minded players and only three attackers.

"It was therefore relatively easy for Lyon's back-five to look after the three front men of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and de Bruyne.

"Any team that use a system their players aren't used to is asking for trouble, and City were weaker for it. And what makes me angry and frustrated is that there was no need for tinkering."

The point made by both pundits was further reinforced by Lyon manager Rudi Garcia, who said winning the tactical battle had been the key to his team's surprise win.

Lyon took the lead through Maxwel Cornet, but de Bruyne equalised after Guardiola reverted to his usual 4-3-3.

Lyon substitute Moussa Dembele then scored a brace to set up a semi-final meeting with Bayern Munich.

"We knew that Pep could concoct something to cause us problems. But, in the end, we won the tactical battle in the sense that we've mastered our tactical system, even if I changed it (during the match)," said Garcia.

However, the City manager stood by his decision to shake up his side's tactics.

"In this competition, the tactics are not the most important thing," Guardiola said.

"When you play like we did in the last 20 minutes, it shows the system is not the problem."

Football