With Portsmouth appointing Danny Cowley and his Brother Nicky as new coaches yesterday and having watched their interview, It was hard not to start thinking of the Guardiola Effect.
In case you haven’t seen the interview, the Cowley brothers were asked how they like their teams to play football.
The answer …
“With a High Pressing line, attacking on the front foot and fast, giving the opposition no time to think“
Having listened to this, the mind started to wander towards Pep Guardiola. You see his teams have played that way for years. The results are obvious. Trophies!
Now you can argue that he has brought success, but there are many negations for that, because players still have to perform. Although, if you were in charge of a team that had very very rich owners giving you a blank cheque book to buy the best, then I challenge you to not buy them.
Its this transition caused by Guardiola, that has led a number of managers to follow suit. Some examples are: Mauricio Pochettino, now at Paris St Germain, Maurizio Sarri, formerly of Chelsea and Juventus and Jurgen Klopp, of… Oh Yes, Liverpool.
Now these are some more famous examples. Each of course would argue that he has his own ideas behind that philosophy. Lets, however, look closer to home for some more examples of The Guardiola Effect.
In the Championship, Darren Moore now at Sheffield Wednesday, while in League One: Grant McCann at Hull City, Russ Martin at MK Dons. More on MK Dons in a moment. Mark Robinson at AFC Wimbledon and finally Darren Ferguson at Peterborough All of these are managers who, are adapting the Guardiola effect.
Now when you actually stop and think about it, the principle is very simple. Your team has two parts of its game. In Possession and Out of Possession. Simply put, when you lose the ball your have to win it back again and keep control of it so you can dictate the pace of the game and wear the other team down.
Ultimately, you want to be playing in your opponents defensive area, which is your final third because attack is the best form of defence.
Games of Football are won by scoring goals and not conceding them. This was embodied by Guardiola’s teams at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City
If you concede more than one every game, then clearly you are not going to be very successful. This brings me on very nicely to two team who through the years, do this very well.
First cast your mind back, waayy back to the mid-eighties. Wimbledon, love them or loathe them, played the game this way. In those days they played the POMO game – Possession Of Maximum Opportunity.
It was successful, though they bypassed the midfield and relied on winning second balls, they gained lots of promotions this way and won an FA Cup Final in 1988 against Liverpool thanks to a Lawrie Sanchez goal.
Bolton Wanderers, years later under Sam Allardyce, were also as successful playing like this. Now fast forward to date and this current season. Currently in League One, MK Dons under the guidance of Russ Martin, they are arguably playing the most successful brand of football throughout the Football League.
They play possession based football, which week in week out causes their opponents no end of problems and Martin’s side invariably win the stats charts by miles compared to other teams.
MK Dons, play the Guardiola Effect very well, wearing teams down and it is no coincidence that they often score last minute goals, simply because the other team are tired from trying to win the ball back.
The transition is fairly smooth and the opposition very rarely get to touch the ball. A testament to how effective this style of play is demonstrated by regular appearances of MK Dons players’ names appearing in the League One Team of the Week.
Now they may not win promotion this season, but the play-offs are a possibility along with Portsmouth. They will be strong favourites for automatic promotion, possibly even as champions next season from League One.
Whether Portsmouth do get Promotion this season via the play-offs, due to the Guardiola effect remains to be seen, but it will be an exciting period in PO4 for the next 12 games.
Following the recent Merseyside Derby at the weekend between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, a match won by Everton, the debate raged around the penalty conceded by Liverpool, who were already 1-0 down at this time
A ball was threaded through the Liverpool defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked a good bet to score….
A decisive tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to put the Everton striker off his stride.
This resulted in Calvert-Lewin falling into the back of Alexander- Arnold then being carried over the England right back’s head and shoulders before apparently being tripped by his right leg. This caused the Everton striker to fall to the ground and appeal for a penalty.
The match referee spent a few moments reviewing the incident, before awarding Everton a penalty, which they subsequently scored with the last kick of the match to win the game 2-0
The penalty has been the subject of fierce debate since and featured on SkySports Football show in the ‘Ask The Ref Segment’ featuring Dermot Gallagher.
Unsurprisingly, Gallagher as so often is the case with him, sided with the referees judgment and viewed it as a penalty.
It could be argued, however, that Alexander-Arnold in moving to intercept the tackle, could be considered a tad unlucky because his initial movement as seen in the video below did not make contact with Calvert-Lewin.
But as Calvert-Lewin hit his back, this caused the defender to bend forward, which resulted in his right leg going upwards and catching the forward
Was it a penalty?
The referee thought so….
Jurgen Klopp obviously did not…..
Public and Pundit reaction is mixed, but I certainly think Alexander Arnold was harshly penalised.
What are your views? Feel free to provide them in the comments below…..
Cast your minds back to the 2009/2010 season, when Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers side were sitting mid-table and were relying on the creative skills of Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn. The likes of Jason Roberts and Franco Di Santo were not being clinical enough in front of goal and Allardyce was crying out for someone to convert the chances that his midfield were producing.
Head of Recruitment at the time for the Lancashire club Martyn Glover had reportedly scouted out a promising Polish forward at the time, who had scored 21 goals in 34 appearances for Lech Poznan and Glover envisioned that this striker could perhaps be as good as the man who fired Rovers to the Premier League title in 1995, Alan Shearer.
Glover, who is now Head of Recruitment at Southampton and has been since 2019, said:
“We had seen a lot of Robert Levandowksi and we knew we were dealing with a top class striker.”
Discussions with the club president went as planned and we had outlined a proposal for him to join Rovers.
However, the chairman (John Williams) was worried that Poland was not famous for producing prolific goal scorers and there was also questions surrounding the fee, which was £3 million possibly rising to £4 million.
Indeed, Rovers hesitation surrounding the player proved costly as the player had a pal at the Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund and before the Premier League side could do anything Dortmund snapped him up for the same fee.
“He’s certainly close to the top of the list of the ones that got away!”
Allardyce subsequently bought Croatian Nikola Kalinic instead for a reported £6 million.
The prolific Polish International striker certainly proved that he was indeed the one that got away. Having joined Dortmund 2010, under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp he became the complete striker. He immediately endeared himself to the Dortmund fans by scoring his first goal for the club against fierce rivals Schalke in the Revierderby.
Lewandowkski spent four seasons at die Schwarzgelben scoring an impressive 103 goals in 187 appearances. He helped his team to the 2010-11 and 2011-12 Bundesliga titles, plus the 2012 DFB-Pokal Cup. While at the same time also playing a key role in Dortmund’s run to the 2013 Champions League final, which they subsequently lost to Bayern Munich.
The highlight of that memorable 2012-13 Champions League campaign was undoubtedly his four goals against Real Madrid in the semi-final.
The Pole broke Dortmund fans hearts, however, by agreeing to move to their fierce rivals, Bayern Munich, in 2014 on a five-year deal. At Bayern he got to work with the likes of Pep Guardiola and won title after title.
There were periods, however, where it was not plane sailing but it all came to together last season with manager Hans Flick. League crown thanks to a 1-0 win over French Champions Paris Saint Germain.
The incredible year for Lewandowski was capped off by winning the Best FIFA award for men’s player of the year and finished first in the Guardian’s 100 best male footballers. The past season saw Lewandowski score 55 goals in just 47 games.
Under the guidance of Flick, Lewandowski has clearly become more of a team player. His team mate Thomas Muller added:
“It has even gone so far that he can almost enjoy an assist now.”
Jacek Grembocki, the coach of the Pole’s first ever-professional team Znicz Pruszkow, meanwhile, said:
“Players like Lewandowski only think about one thing: success, success and success. Now he plays not only for Poland, but for Bayern too. And he is a legend up there with Messi and Ronaldo.
“He is the best player in the history of Polish football.”
Champions Liverpool travel to the Etihad on Sunday to take on Manchester City in a mouthwatering test of both sides’ title credentials.
Liverpool currently sit top of the table on sixteen points after last weekend’s hard fought 2-1 victory over West Ham. City meanwhile, are down in 10th with eleven points having played a game less than the Reds, but having already dropped points against Leeds,West Ham and Leicester.
A win for Liverpool against City would see them open up an eight point lead over their rivals and would secure their first win at the Etihad in a domestic game in five years.
Nat Phillips picked up the man of the match award for his performance on his Premier League debut against the Hammers, but the 23 year old is set to drop down to the bench as Klopp has the experienced Joel Matip available again after injury.
The Cameroon defender has been absent since picking up a knock in last month’s ill-tempered Merseyside derby, but Klopp confirmed in his press conference that Matip had returned to training this week and it is therefore likely he will partner Joe Gomez at centre back.
One man who is still working his way back to fitness after the Everton game is new signing Thiago. He sustained a knee injury in the 2-2 draw after Richarlison’s lunging tackle on him, and although he played the full 90 minutes the Spain international has sat out their past five games.
He was spotted at Melwood this week doing some individual training and Klopp has assured fans that the injury is not a serious one, but he will again be missing for the trip to Manchester, the manager told the media today.
Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are longstanding absentees whilst Fabinho is also ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Liverpool warmed up for this weekend’s crunch trip in ideal fashion, thumping Atalanta 5-0 in Bergamo midweek in the Champions League with the man of the moment Diogo Jota netting a hat-trick.
He has now scored seven goals in just ten games in all competitions from Wolves and his performances have given Klopp a selection headache going into Sunday’s game.
On current form, the Portuguese international must start, especially when you consider he has more goals for Liverpool than Roberto Firmino has this year despite plying far less minutes.
The Brazilian has been a key cog in Jurgen Klopp’s front three for the past few seasons but his form at the end of last year and the start of this season has tailed off alarmingly.
He looks a shadow of his former self and given that Liverpool are likely to struggle at the back with the absence of Van Dijk, attack may be the best form of defence for the Reds and the inclusion of Jota adds to their attacking prowess alongside Salah and Mané who are still scoring goals.
Liverpool have responded well since their 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa, winning their last five games in all competitions to bolster their quest to regain the Premier League title.
Sunday’s trip provides the sternest challenge yet, with Pep Guardiola’s men dispatching the Reds 4-0 on their last visit to Manchester after the restart. The Citizens are currently on an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions and have defeated Liverpool at the Etihad in each of the last three seasons. They will be hoping to make it four to kickstart their title charge this campaign.
City will be without striker Sergio Agüero for Sunday’s game. The Argentine has been nursing a hamstring issue since the draw with West Ham and has missed last three games. There was hope that he could feature from the bench against the Reds, but the game has come too soon and Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that he will be missing. His full return is expected after the international break.
They are still unable to call upon Fernandinho, who was forced off against Porto in the Champions League opener with a leg injury and Benjamin Mendy who is suffering from a muscle problem. Both players are eyeing up City’s game against Tottenham after the international break for their return.
City also enjoyed a comfortable Champions League win during the week, putting three past Olympiakos without reply. Gabriel Jesus marked his return to action with a goal whilst Phil Foden and Ferran Torres also impressed in that game.
Jesus should come in from the start against Liverpool to give City a focal point up top which they have lacked in his and Augero’s absence. Who he will replace is anyone’s guess given Guardiola’s constant rotation, the most likely candidate being Torres, allowing Sterling to move back out to the wing with Mahrez on the other side.
The City boss is also likely to revert to the back four who started last weekend’s victory over Sheffield United with Laporte, Dias and Cancelo coming in for Ake, Stones and Zinchenko who started midweek and Kyle Walker retaining his place.
Rodri will also be restored to the starting eleven alongside De Bruyne and Gundogan in midfield as the Citizens look to add some steel to thwart Liverpool’s devastating counter attacks. Foden is set to provide a spark from the bench if called upon alongside Bernardo Silva and the aforementioned Torres.
There are a number of intriguing match ups to watch out for in the game. Joao Cancelo up against Mo Salah will be one of them. The Egyptian has started the campaign like a house on fire, clinically scoring seven goals in seven games.
Cancelo, a right back by nature, has found his feet on the left side of Guardiola’s defence this season and has impressed going forward, but he will need to be switched on defensively to cope with Salah’s strength and direct running as well as Alexander-Arnold’s overlaps on the right flank.
Henderson against De Bruyne will see another battle between last year’s two outstanding players in the league. In the absence of Fabinho, captain Henderson has reverted to a deeper lying role and he will be tasked with picking up the Belgian De Bruyne and stop him from spraying passes out wide and from darting late into the box to get on the end of crosses.
Similarly De Bruyne will be keen to prevent Henderson having the time and space to launch Liverpool’s counter attacks when City are in transition.
Another key tussle will be Jesus up against Joe Gomez. The Brazilian starts City’s press from the front and will be alert to pounce on any little mistake from the England defender when attempting to play out from the back.
He’s also very comfortable taking players on one vs one and Gomez will have stand tall and marshal him in these scenarios, avoiding diving in as Jesus will take it past him punish him.
Gomez is one of the quickest centre backs in the league however, so will have no qualms about catching Jesus if he makes a run in behind.
Guardiola is under no illusion of how difficult a game this will be considering City’s inconsistent start to the season, telling reporters, “ When you play against teams like Liverpool you always have moments where you have to suffer. We know it, we have to do it and try to use our strength as much a possible.”
He played down the notion that the game is season defining, however, comparing the fixture to the race for the Presidency in the USA, stating:
“It is an important game but, like the presidential elections in the USA, all the votes must be counted – there are a lot of points to play for.”
His opposite number Klopp echoed these sentiments, telling the media that Sunday’s game will be:
“The most difficult game in the world of football.“
“It’s a very difficult game, hopefully for both teams. So many things are different this year, nothing can be compared with last year or the year before. I enjoy these kind of games, I enjoy the preparation, but it doesn’t make it easier, it’s just a really tough task.”
Prediction: Man City 1-2 Liverpool
Given the weaknesses in both back lines it is hard to see either side keeping a clean sheet. Chances are likely to be in abundance on Sunday as a result, and it should be the case of whoever is most clinical will take home all three points.
Liverpool have made a knack of scoring crucial goals and grinding out important wins even if they aren’t playing well, and it seems hard to overlook them edging this one if their front three have their shooting boots on.
City will cause them problems going the other way and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold will have to put in a shift defensively to prevent Sterling and Mahrez from wrecking havoc out wide.
It is sure to be a great game of football and you can watch all the action on Sky Sports with the game kicking off at 4:30 pm.
Liverpool, already without talismanic central defender Virgil van Dijk were dealt another huge blow on Tuesday night when Fabinho pulled up, before being forced off with a hamstring problem.
The Brazilian had been deputising, successfully, for the missing Dutchman when he stopped in his tracks whilst defending an FC Midtylland attack in the UEFA Champions League.
Indeed, Reds fans and players alike wait with bated breath for the severity of the injury. It is almost certain they will be without Fabinho for at least the weekends visit of West Ham to Anfield.
Central defender Joel Matip also remains side-lined, leaving Jurgen Klopp with just one senior central defender – Joe Gomez.
So how can the Premier League champions cope with such flimsy numbers? I’ve had a look at the options…
Tuesday night saw 19-year-old Rhys Williams play out the remaining hour, and in doing so the powerful looking teenager looked comfortable as he helped the Reds to a clean sheet.
Williams seems most likely to start on Saturday in the absence of Fabinho, although Nat Phillips will be pushing for a place after he spent the 2019/20 campaign season playing senior football for Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga 2.
Fabinho himself was operating out of position when his injury came and there is a chance captain Jordan Henderson could be asked to do the same after playing in the role during the FIFA World Club Cup last term.
Missing Henderson’s influence in midfield, however, may be too much of a blow to Klopp’s side.
Should James Milner, Thiago, Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum all be fit and available, there is certainly scope for Henderson to drop back into centre-half temporarily.
Albeit an obvious huge blow to Liverpool, and indeed their title chances, with an impended international break and with football a little all over the place at the moment, there is hope the Reds could make it to January without suffering too much damage to their hopes.
In January they would at least have the option of signing reinforcements, with many names linked with the club. The likes of Dayot Upamecano, Ben White and Ozan Kabak to name just a few.
In the mean time Klopp, fans and teammates will be hoping Fabinho’s injury isn’t serious, Matip can get run of fitness, and Rhys Williams can deputise successfully. All of this while not dropping too many points along the way, which with a trip to rivals Manchester City on the horizon, may be easier said than done.