Pep Guardiola pays Sheffield United the ultimate compliment

Sheffield United’s pioneering system persuaded Manchester City, the reigning Premier League champions, to change their own tactics at Bramall Lane, Pep Guardiola has admitted.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 10:23 am

Describing the commitment of Chris Wilder’s side as “incredible”, the Catalan revealed United’s attacking threat had persuaded him to experiment with a five man defence during last night’s fixture at Bramall Lane.

Explaining he had taken the decision after reviewing footage of United’s performance at the Etihad Stadium three weeks earlier, Guardiola said: “They attack with a lot of people in the channels. With two it is difficult to stop them.

“With the central defenders over lapping and the wing-backs going forward, with four we are not so safe.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at Sheffield United last night

“With five, with three centre halves, it was better because we could stop their angles.

“It is not something I would usually do. I might consider it again though, but only sometimes.”

After beating United 2-0 on home soil, City claimed their second win over Wilder’s side in the space of a month when Sergio Aguero scored the only goal of the game midway through the second-half.

Dean Henderson had earlier saved a Gabriel Jesus penalty while Oli McBurnie went agonisingly close to opening the scoring moments before the Argentine’s strike. It was created by a superb pass from Kevin de Bruyne.

“It is a difficult place to come, everybody knows it,” Guardiola continued. “When they came to the Etihad three weeks ago, they had only lost one game away.

“They attack with a lot of people, they are incredible with the second balls and the strikers are always fighting.

“The second half was a little more dynamic from us and finally the assist from Kevin gave us the victory.”