Pep Guardiola admitted that he needs to tweak his approach to the Premier League but denied that there was any need for a major change after watching his Manchester City crash to a heavy 4-2 defeat at Leicester City.
The visitors were 2-0 down after five minutes at the King Power and then conceded two more goals before striking back with a couple of their own late on. Their defending was weak throughout, as they failed to combat the speed, power and directness of Leicester, whose long passes and counterattacking flummoxed the away side.
However Guardiola absolved his players of any blame, even John Stones, whose slack backpass allowed Jamie Vardy to complete a hat-trick, the player’s first since he scored three for Fleetwood Town in a Conference game in 2012 against Ebbsfleet.
“I’m not disappointed with my players,” Guardiola said. “I know my players, I know how they train, they work hard to make things perfect. We knew [Leicester] would be focused after losing 5-0 [in the Champions League] and here they believed really well, the long balls, the second balls. We don’t control now, maybe for my mistake.
“I have to improve to solve that, it’s true,” he continued before maintaining that his approach is generally bearing fruit. “I want to play the football that I feel. Because it’s simple like that to concede few goals and try to score more. The basics of the way we play this season – except a few times – was quite good.
“So I cannot say today that we played bad, that we didn’t play with the intention to create. But of course we conceded a lot of goals. I try to control games – here I cannot do that, I have to analyse why.”
That, he stressed, did not mean he would contemplate radical change. “Of course I will be the same. Of course there are some special things in the Premier League but the pitch is the same and it’s 11 v 11. I have to control the little differences between the other leagues but the idea I think is good.”
Claudio Ranieri was not about to get carried away with his team’s victory. They had started the match one point above the relegation zone and the manager stopped short of declaring this a turning point. “This is just a little step because we now we have to think about the next match. We will be able to tell in two or three months whether it’s a turning point, now it’s too early. For this reason I want to wait for the next two matches, ” he said.
Ranieri said a post-Porto inquest following their midweek defeat helped to inspire the reigning champions. “We spoke a lot about everything but this time the words go in the right direction, not only mine. The players contributed,” Ranieri said.
“We must be upset with our performance [in Porto] because it wasn’t good enough and the fans are always behind us. It’s important to say: ‘We are here.’
“It’s important the players feel better, with more confidence because we can do this.”
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