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Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s private phone call that relaunched Man City’s title charge

Pep Guardiola called the Godfather of modern coaching for help before relaunching Manchester City’s bid for the Quadruple last year.

Back in November the Citizens were down in 10th place in the Premier League after a home draw with Liverpool and defeat to Tottenham.

The City boss called former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi for advice – and was told to start pressing opponents again. The Premier League champions-elect then went on a 28-game unbeaten run which took them to the Carabao Cup final, the Champions League quarter-finals and the last four of the FA Cup.

Asked which teams he now watches for pleasure, Sacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport: “Bayern Munich play well and also Manchester City since they started to press again. Guardiola called me in November, at the most critical moment, I said to him: ‘You don’t press anymore’.

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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are now in the running for four titles after stumbling in November

“Pep improves the championship where he play because he radiates knowledge and courage. Like I did at Milan.

“|At that time, other Italian teams also won in Europe. In the last 10 years nobody has won anything. (Antonio) Conte is on the right path. He is fighting against some old habits.”

Sacchi, who celebrates his 75th birthday today, revolutionised the game at AC Milan with his pressing style in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Portrait of Arrigo Sacchi Italian team coach
Arrigo Sacchi changed modern football with his AC Milan team of the 1980s and 1990s

The Italian and the Spaniard have since become friends – and the elder coach a mentor for Guardiola.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror in 2017, Sacchi claimed Guardiola was following in the footsteps of Dutch legends Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff in changing football.

“He has carried forward total football even more,” ­Sacchi said. “He is adding to it, making it better. He is a great coach and Manchester City play in his way with a real style.

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“We’re friends. We’ve known each other for a long time. He came to see how I worked when I was at Real Madrid. He’s an obsessive, a perfectionist, he thinks deeply about football.

“He’s one of the top ten coaches since the 1950s who have contributed to the evolution of football.”

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