Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has praised Claudio Bravo’s distribution and described the Chilean’s performance against Huddersfield in the FA Cup as “a masterpiece”.
He believes Bravo’s ability to play short balls as well as floated passes into midfield helped City bypass the opposition on numerous occasions – and says his performance is the blueprint for any Blues goalkeeper this season.
“The most important thing for keepers is to save the balls with their hands, but the way I believe to play football - from when I grew up as a little boy and my conscious awareness like a human being as a trainer - what I want to do is so important [to me],” he said.
“To take decisions like Claudio Bravo did in the last game was a masterpiece. How he took decisions, short and right, left and along and behind because we knew Huddersfield would be high pressing and press Aleix Garcia.
“How he put the ball there - it wasn't a long ball, it was a pass. How he took the decisions was right all the time, it was really perfect, definitely what I want from Claudio and of course Willy [Caballero].”
Guardiola believes the makeup of City’s strikeforce means playing long balls isn’t an option for his goalkeepers.
City have amassed a group of forwards renowned for their technical quality – but none of them offer height or physical presence that allow them to play with their back to goal and battle with defenders.
That, Guardiola feels, increases the importance of the goalkeeper making the right decisions when starting the team’s buildup play.
“The goalkeeper has less quality than the outfield players - that's normal - but we try to train that to help us to create the buildup from behind to in front,” he said.
“Maybe it's my opinion but when you have strikers 2m tall you can play long balls but our strikers are not strong enough in the long balls.
“If we play 100 long balls we are going to lose maybe 95 and when this happens the ball comes back more quickly and with more players to attack you.
“That's why sometimes it is not easy because the opponents are so aggressive and sometimes it is not possible - but I tried from the beginning.
“I have tried here and it doesn't always mean buildup with short passes.
“You have made the build up and you see if the opponent comes. If they come, you play long balls but then you have more space behind the people who come to press you to play the ball.
“If they don't come, you have to play short.”
Guardiola also rebuffed the idea that his preferred style is one that sees defenders play the ball around aimlessly in order to keep possession – and instead pointed out that quick, incisive attacks are his preferred option.
“People believe I want to build up 30-40 passes between the full-backs? That is not good buildup.
“When you use the goalkeeper four or five times in the same action, that is not good.
“That is because something is not going well but you need time to improve because it is not easy to do that in the short team but my feeling is it is a little bit better game by game.”