The Manchester City manager was told his team did not win a single tackle in the first 35 minutes against Leicester and this is how he answered.
Here is the full quote and it is quite a beautiful one as well:
“The second ball is a concept that is typical here in England when they use a lot about the tackles.
“I am not a coach for the tackles so I don’t train the tackles. What I want is to try and play good and score goals and arrive more [in the box].
“Yes the duels you have to win that’s true. But normally when you play good you win a lot of tackles but after four minutes 2-0 in the mind of the players [they say] ‘what’s going on, what happened’ and it’s not easy for them.
“That’s why it’s another aspect of the football but in the end we’re not going to win or lose for the tackles.”
There is no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s football philosophy is quite extremist. I think the kind of football he is trying to play is beautiful to watch and he puts a lot of work in training to develop his own style.
So when he speaks about not doing tackles in training, it is quite logical within his philosophy and when you think about it, tackling should really be the last resort for a defender. At the end of the day, if you defend properly as a team, you should never have to tackle.
Pep Guardiola has installed his football style in Spain with Barcelona and Germany with FC Bayern Munich and it is quite clear that he will come and do the same here in England. I believe he will have to tweak his philosophy a little bit because English football will not adapt to him and should not have to.
There are important cultural values in English football that he has to overcome:
The “get stuck in” traditional attitude that permeates throughout the football pyramid and is the total opposite of the Guardiola philosophy.
That attitude finds an echo in the refereeing culture, where the laisser-faire is part of the game and therefore favours the physical play rather than the attacking football play.
We have to remember that football and rugby used to be one sport at the beginning of their life before they split and they actually use the same word “tackle” in English, while in France for example, there are two different words.
Here the rugby and the football tackles share some traditional values, something that Guardiola needs to be taught about. I think this is where he will have to tweak and adapt his philosophy, because challenges are often left unpunished and disrupt his football style.
The “get rid of the ball” attitude that you can hear from the supporters and coaches at every level? He basically needs to brainwash all the players he has who share that attitude.
It is quite obvious that John Stones who is a fantastic ball playing centreback get a lot of criticism because he tries to play football as demanded by his manager rather than hoof the ball.
When Joe Hart moved away simply because he is not a good enough football player rather than a simple goalkeeper, there was a lot of protest in the press and among the fans. Probably because he is English, I don’t think Guardiola would have got so much stick if he had moved away Courtois or Cech.
So when Guardiola, spends hours and hours is training putting his philosophy in place, he really has no time to work on something that is not part of the game plan. At the end of the day, he is all about team defending, while tackling is an isolated individual act.
If you defend with a compact defensive block, you will force the opponent to turn over the ball and or you will intercept it. It’s a defensive philosophy used by many coaches around the world. It’s as good and valuable as pressurising the opponent physically to win the ball back.
Only time will tell if the Guardiola experiment will work but it is certainly extremely interesting to see if a coach with such an extreme football philosophy can make it work in a country where core values do not really fit with it.