‘Pep can change English foot­ball’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

SHEN­ZEN — Pep Guardiola can rev­o­lu­tionise English foot­ball at Manch­ester City — just like Arsene Wenger did 20 years ago.

Arse­nal boss Wenger is cred­ited with trans­form­ing the out­look of English foot­ball, in­tro­duc­ing a more cul­tured ap­proach to coach­ing and play­ing.

City de­fender Gael Clichy played for Wenger at Arse­nal for eight years and has al­ready seen enough in three weeks un­der his new boss Guardiola to be­lieve he can have a sim­i­lar im­pact to his for­mer boss.

“I’ve trained only a few weeks with Guardiola and I was eight years with Wenger,” said full-back Clichy .

“There are a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the two, but also so much dif­fer­ence.

“In eight or nine years, Guardiola has won pretty much ev­ery­thing and he’s changed the way we see foot­ball. He was prob­a­bly one of the first to bring the full-backs re­ally high, to put a mid­field player as a cen­tre-back.

“Wenger, years ago, brought some­thing back from wher­ever he was into English foot­ball and kind of changed the way peo­ple see foot­ball.

“I guess the two of them are just great man­agers, but you could say the same for Sir Alex Fer­gu­son and Jose Mour­inho.

“Ev­ery man­ager has their own phi­los­o­phy and for sure he’s com­ing with his own ideas and it’s quite re­fresh­ing for us.”

Clichy ad­mit­ted Guardiola, who won two Cham­pi­ons League crowns and three La Liga ti­tles at Barcelona, be­fore mov­ing to Bay­ern Mu­nich and de­liv­er­ing the Bun­desliga crown in all three of his sea­sons in charge, had given City’s play­ers a huge lift.

“Any man­ager who comes into a new club brings an en­ergy,” said Clichy. “In­stead of giv­ing 100 per­cent you give 110 per cent just be­cause it’s a new man­ager and you need to show your­self.

“But of course he’s bring­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, he’s bring­ing some­thing he’s been do­ing with Barcelona and Mu­nich.

“It’s been re­ally ex­cit­ing for the last three weeks and I can see that we’re go­ing to im­prove as a team and so many play­ers are go­ing to im­prove in­di­vid­u­ally. Hope­fully it will bring suc­cess to the club be­cause, in the end, that’s what he’s here for.

“We’re work­ing hard and those that will be lucky to stay here will have an amaz­ing sea­son be­cause he’s a coach that gives a lot of en­ergy on and off the field and, from my side, it’s been in­cred­i­ble for the last three weeks.”

Guardiola has wasted no time in en­sur­ing his play­ers un­der­stand his phi­los­o­phy, with Clichy ad­mit­ting ev­ery player has been told to raise their game to a new level un­der the 45-year-old.

The new City boss has even told first-choice goal­keeper Joe Hart he needs to im­prove his ball-con­trol and dis­tri­bu­tion with his feet, ac­cord­ing to Clichy.

“I think he’s an ideal man­ager for any kind of player,” said the de­fender. “The goal­keeper needs to be bet­ter with their feet, the cen­tre-backs are im­prov­ing and the full-backs are im­por­tant.

“In cen­tral mid­field he said some­thing like if he could play 11 mid­field­ers, he would play them. So I guess for a mid­fielder it’s un­be­liev­able.

"And the strik­ers are go­ing to score a lot of goals be­cause we’re go­ing to cre­ate a lot of chances.”

Clichy ad­mit­ted City’s play­ers al­lowed their stan­dards to drop in Manuel Pel­le­grini ’s last sea­son in charge, scrap­ing fourth spot and a Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing place ahead of Manch­ester United on goal dif­fer­ence.

But the 31-year-old ad­mit­ted Guardiola will not al­low them to go the same way this sea­son, given his ex­act­ing stan­dards and re­fusal to ac­cept any­thing less the max­i­mum from his squad.

“Per­haps when you spend more time, after two years the lev­els drop a lit­tle bit,” said Clichy.

“But it’s not the case that it was Pel­le­grini’s fault. In fact, it was prob­a­bly the play­ers’ fault, be­cause that’s hu­man — as soon as you’ve been in the place for a few years, you un­con­sciously drop a lit­tle bit. — The Mir­ror

Kag­iso Rabada

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