Guardiola announces Manchester derby plans


Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, has admitted that he is already thinking about how he is going to approach the Manchester derby on Saturday afternoon. Although City have a Carabao Cup game to play this evening, Guardiola is already conjuring up a plan to take down Erik Ten Hag’s men at Old Trafford. 

The last time the two sides met, Manchester City steamrolled their neighbours scoring six goals in 73 minutes at the Etihad Stadium. While two late goals from Anthony Martial made the scoreline a little bit more respectable, Erik Ten Hag will be hoping for a better showing this time around. 

Since the derby defeat in October, United have only dropped seven points in ten league games and are currently on an eight-match winning streak in all competitions. The red-hot run of form has coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the club, laying to rest speculation that the 20-time Premier League champions would struggle for goals with him. 

Manchester City, on the other hand, have failed to hit the same heights as they did in this season’s first derby game ever since. The gap between the two clubs is currently four points with City needing a win to keep the pressure on Arsenal in the title race. 

manchester derby

Guardiola’s ridiculous plans

During the pre-match press conference for City’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Southampton, Guardiola was asked about the upcoming derby. While most managers would have said they were taking things one game at a time, the Spaniard was happy to admit he was already considering different plans. He said:

“I would like to arrive against United with the average of minutes in the legs of the players quite similar because I have a few ideas, thoughts, ridiculous ones against United. I don’t have a clear line-up against United. I didn’t watch their last games. I have to see the way they play at home and if they change something.”

It’s sometimes difficult to tell if Guardiola is being sarcastic with the press but it wouldn’t be the first time that he has come up with a “ridiculous” tactical switch for a crunch game. One that springs to mind instantly is his decision to leave out both Rodri and Fernandinho for the Champions League final in 2021. It was the first time that City had played without either of them all season. 

Another unusual tactical switch from Guardiola for a big game came in the 2020 Champions League quarter-final against Lyon. After playing a 4-3-3 throughout his managerial career, Guardiola opted for a 3-5-2 and City ended up getting knocked out. 

Mind games

While Guardiola might be being serious with his comments, it could also be the Spaniard’s way of playing mind games ahead of the fixture. It would be a huge shock if he was to change his usual 4-3-3 formation or any star players for the game against United.

The same goes for Erik Ten Hag and his plans for the game. The only real doubt for Manchester United is the fitness of Diogo Dalot. He was substituted off in their victory against Charlton Athletic last night, although Ten Hag confirmed it was just as a “precaution.”