Guardiola has ‘ridiculous ideas’ for the Manchester derby and we have figured them all out

Pep Guardiola issues tactical instructions Credit: Alamy
Pep Guardiola issues tactical instructions Credit: Alamy

Pep Guardiola has promised something tactically ludicrous for the Manchester derby, with man-marking Wout Weghorst surely among his brightest plans.

“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, but still I didn’t watch the last games,” Guardiola said in midweek. It’s spitballing time.


Rico Lewis man-marks Wout Weghorst
“Pep Guardiola is probably the only coach in world football who would do this away at the Nou Camp. I can’t think of any other coach who would employ these tactics,” said Gary Neville.

“You don’t like calling Pep Guardiola stupid because he’s one of the best coaches but it was fascinating how he tried to stop Barca,” added Jamie Carragher.

An undoubted underrated Pep overthinking came in the 2015 Champions League semi-finals, when he sent Bayern Munich out to try and Bielsa Barcelona by man-marking them across the pitch. The tactic lasted 20 minutes before the formation and approach was changed completely. But Barca scored thrice late on to essentially settle the tie.

Philipp Lahm was in the Bayern midfield that fateful evening; after a quite dreadful team performance against Southampton in the Carabao, his Bury-born heir might be called upon to make a derby bow.

Guardiola claimed Rico Lewis “changed the game” against Chelsea and the Spaniard is leaning on his latest teenage dream with increasing regularity. He is the smallest member of this Manchester City squad at about 5ft 6ins but there is no better candidate to shadow the debuting Wout Weghorst and nullify him at set-pieces. Lewis will just need to watch for those disguised short free-kicks and he’ll be fine.


Royal Rumble tombola
‘Tis the season. There is an option to put the team selection to a fan vote – but Guardiola passively aggressively hinted that was behind his deployment of Joao Cancelo as a winger with Rodri dipping between defence and midfield at Chelsea.

Something which removes subjectivity entirely and operates only on randomisation is needed. And with the Royal Rumble just around the corner – let’s hope Premier League managers don’t climb through the ropes again this year – it’s time to wheel the tombola in and allow nature to take its course.

Scribble some positions on a load of balls and wait for the fun and japes to unfold. Phil Foden in net. Erling Haaland in holding midfield. A central defence of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish. John Stones up front. Lisandro Martinez might have a World Cup winner’s medal but he won’t have a sodding clue what to do.


Dectuple pivot
Even the slightest risk of Erik ten Hag unleashing Manchester United’s true power of a Casemiro-Fred-McTominay-Jones midfield should fret Guardiola into presenting his greatest creation: the dectuple pivot. Imagine the sheer volume of tactical fouls, the amount of simultaneous late runs into the box to convert cutbacks and the hostility with which Guardiola would tell the post-match interviewer that the goalless draw was Manchester City’s best performance by far this season.


Faces old and new
“I’m not in, I checked. I thought it was 2006 again. I was waiting for Sven to call me. I swear I’ve had two missed calls at quarter to 12. No voicemail though.”

Scott Carson: national treasure. An England call-up for the World Cup eluded one of the last men to represent the Three Lions while playing club football abroad. A travesty. Gareth Southgate could not even hide behind the excuse of a lack of playing time, considering Carson kept a clean sheet in his 17 minutes for Manchester City in 2022.

That substitute cameo in the second leg of a Champions League tie City led 5-0 against Sporting was only the keeper’s second appearance for the club. His debut came in May 2021 when he saved a penalty in a 4-3 win over Newcastle. There is no better time than now for Carson to complete his personal hat-trick.

It would be a waste not to capitalise on the mid-2000s Liverpool vibes by promoting Jaden Heskey from the development team. Father Emile left Anfield in the summer of 2004, mere months after Carson joined from Charlton in the winter window. The pair never played together and that wrong must be made right.


And the most ridiculous idea of all…
Considering both the occasion and the weather, it has to be that coat with the huge Manchester City badge on the back, the grey knitted cardigan and the Stone Island jumper, with cargo pants, distressed jeans and chinos, to prowl the touchline. It’s ever so slightly Joey from Friends but needs must.

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