Pep Guardiola says Manchester City have rediscovered their form after telling his players to “stop running”.
City are on a six-game winning run — their longest of the season — after an inconsistent start of the campaign.
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Victory over Brighton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday will move Guardiola’s side to within a point of champions Liverpool with a game in hand and he says the return to form, particularly going forward, has been triggered by his request for his players to “walk.”
“The only difference is that we run less,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We were running too much. When you play football you have to walk — or run much much less.
“Without the ball you have to run. But with the ball you stay more in the position and let the ball run, not you. And we improved in these games, in these terms.”
City have struggled for goals this season with the 24 they have managed in the Premier League the lowest tally of any of the top nine. But since the 1-1 draw with West Brom in December, they have started to turn things around, scoring 15 in their last six games in all competitions.
“We lost it a bit this season, that was my fault, the message was not clear, but we came back a little bit to the principles,” said Guardiola.
“The reason why was because the players need time to get the best condition after no pre-season.
“It is normal that after good results and performances the people visualize again that we can do it again in the way we did it in the past. And that is the way we have to continue.”
City’s goalscoring problems have not been helped by the absence of Sergio Aguero. The striker, who has been restricted to just five Premier League appearances this season, has recovered from a knee but is now having to isolate in line with COVID-19 protocols.
“He was in a good mood and now he is isolated,” said Guardiola. “Of course, he will lose training sessions, and he is a guy who needs training with his better condition in his knee.
“The only important news is that the last 10 or 15 days before isolation he was perfect. He reacted good and this is the best news. The best part of the season is coming and hopefully we can have him. We are only in January.”