Football Features

Explained: The difference between how Guardiola and Postecoglou use full-backs

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:30, 1 December 2023

Since being installed as Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has faced Tottenham on 17 occasions winning just eight of those previous contests.

This upcoming meeting sees Guardiola lock horns with an old friend Ange Postecoglou with both famously meeting in a summer 2019 friendly which left a lasting impression on the Catalan tactician.

“Another exceptional manager is coming,” he said as soon as Tottenham unveiled Postecoglou as their new head coach. “I was lucky to meet him in Tokyo years ago when he was Yokohama manager, one of the clubs in the City Football Group. It was an interesting chat and I had a good relationship.”

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Man City ran out 3-1 winners that day, but Postecoglou claimed a small victory as he saw his side boast 58% possession. “People will say it was a friendly game, in pre-season, they didn’t take it too seriously but I would hazard to guess how many times a team coached by Pep has been out-possessed,” he later told Optus Sport.

Heading into this first competitive showdown Spurs are currently on a three-game losing streak after winning four on the bounce. Despite these latest struggles Guardiola remains a fan. “He came here and, from nothing, in few months you recognise perfectly his team,” he told reporters.

“Even the games that they didn’t win lately, I’ve been impressed how good many, many things they do are, how many chances they create and how aggressive (they are) in all departments. Every team plays with the desire of the manager. His have done in the past, in Japan, of course in Glasgow with Celtic and now. I think he makes football a better place.

“As a manager and a spectator I enjoy a lot watching them play with the approach they have. I think all the Spurs fans and the people in England can admit that his impact has been quick and really good.”

Postecoglou though raised some eyebrows when seeing his side go down to nine men against Chelsea recently. The former Celtic manager opted to continue utlising a high line and when questioned afterwards the Australian was steadfast to his beliefs. “It is just who we are mate, it is who we are and who we will be for as long as I am here. If we go down to five men we will have a go.”

He will certainly have a go against City and even if both men are seemingly cut from the same cloth they use their full-backs differently. “I am not the only person to play a high line,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference.

“I would say my full-backs go inside, but their full-backs go into the pockets. They are attacking midfielders. I’ve never seen it before. I never used that. It belongs absolutely to him.”

Seldom featured under Antonio Conte last season, Pedro Porro has been a feature under Postecoglou, and comes into this fixture having assisted in back-to-back games. Furthermore, the 24-year-old Spaniard has created six ‘Big Chances’ in the Premier League this season, the most of any defender bar Kieran Trippier.

Meanwhile, on the opposite Tottenham flank Destiny Udogie averages 2.97 touches in the opponent’s box this season, also the second-most of any defender in the competition.

Man City

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