I don’t train play­ers to do tac­ti­cal fouls

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By SI­MON BAJKOWSKI

PEP Guardi­ola in­sisted he doesn’t have the time to train his play­ers to de­lib­er­ately foul op­po­si­tion play­ers as he ques­tioned the fo­cus on tac­ti­cal fouls by crit­ics.

United man­ager Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer has raised the is­sue for the sec­ond time in three der­bies, while Jose Mour­inho, Jur­gen Klopp and oth­ers have also high­lighted it.

City’s man­ager has adamantly de­nied the claims ev­ery time and did so again ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup semi-fi­nal first leg at Old Traf­ford in re­sponse to his ri­val’s lat­est com­ments de­mand­ing fouls on Daniel James be more harshly pun­ished.

When it was put to him that for­mer as­sis­tant coach Mikel Arteta is fea­tured in the Ama­zon se­ries doc­u­ment­ing City’s Cen­tu­ri­ons cam­paign telling play­ers to make a foul if there is a tran­si­tion, Guardi­ola told the re­porter to go to Ar­se­nal to ask the new Gun­ners boss about it be­fore evad­ing the ques­tion of whether he was aware his coaches were in­struct­ing the squad in that way.

The City coach sug­gested he won’t care if other peo­ple choose to re­mem­ber his team for this as­pect of their play rather than any­thing else.

“Like I said many times, when I was in Barcelona and here,” he be­gan, “I have never in my life had a meet­ing with play­ers to talk about tac­ti­cal fouls.

“It’s sim­ple. When you lose the ball, you have to make an in­cred­i­bly quick tran­si­tion and some­times you are late and in that sec­ond make a foul.

“If the peo­ple can judge that our legacy will be tac­ti­cal fouls then that is their own prob­lem, not ours.”

Warm­ing to the legacy theme, Guardi­ola brought up one of the low­est points of his time at the Eti­had when his team were hum­bled 4-2 at Le­ices­ter dur­ing his first sea­son in a score­line that flat­tered the vis­i­tors.

Testy enough af­ter the re­sult, City’s man­ager fa­mously replied with “What are tack­les?” when con­fronted with the statis­tic that his side had not com­pleted a tackle in the open­ing 35 min­utes of the game that saw the Foxes open up a 3-0 lead.

Widely de­rided for his view at the time, Guardi­ola would have the last laugh as his team won the league with a record-break­ing 100 points the fol­low­ing year while rank­ing 18th for tack­les com­mit­ted and then be­came the first team to re­tain the ti­tle for a decade while rank­ing 20th.

As far as the Blues boss is con­cerned, he gives tac­ti­cal fouls as much at­ten­tion as tack­les.

He said: “We have about 62 per cent av­er­age of the ball and you can­not make fouls when you have the ball.

“Nor­mally the guy that fouls is the guy that doesn’t have the ball. If it hap­pens, it is be­cause the oth­ers are good and we are late but it’s a process.

“Two years ago peo­ple said we didn’t do tack­les and said how could we win the Pre­mier League if I didn’t train tack­les. ‘You have to do tack­les, what are you do­ing in this coun­try if you don’t do tack­les?’

“I don’t train tack­les and I don’t train tac­ti­cal fouls. There are a lot of things to do to im­prove teams and think­ing about that is a waste of time. Some­times you are late, some­times you want to drib­ble and the player doesn’t want you to drib­ble and makes a foul. It is a yel­low card if the ref­eree thinks we de­serve it and that’s all.”

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