Men's Team

Clichy: Now the whole team must defend

Clichy: Now the whole team must defend
Think of Pep Guardiola and inevitably your mind will turn to beautiful, expansive attacking football.

However, there’s more to the new manager than creating chances and scoring goals, according to one of the men who has been training under him for the last three weeks.

Gael Clichy has opened the lid on some of the work that’s been taking place at City Football Academy, in Munich and now in China, as Pep prepares his new squad for the 2016/17 season.

The left-back, who filled in at centre back in Munich in the absence of Jason Denayer, Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi, has revealed that the role of the full-back will be crucial in Guardiola’s new-look City side.

Clichy has confirmed what those watching the game in Munich will all have suspected – that the team now has an increased obligation to press and to win the ball back as quickly as possible when out of possession.

Gael told “What he wants is for his team to play offensive football and for that he wants the full-backs to support without getting beat when we lose the ball.

“That’s something new as before we were quite open and if you look at our games from last year we were conceding a lot of goals on the counter-attack because we were an offensive team and open. I guess he’s trying to make us as offensive as previous years but just as solid at the back.

"He’s a great manager from what we’ve seen so far."

“He doesn’t want the onus to just be on the back four to defend but it’s the responsibility of the whole team to get the ball back quickly when we lose it."

“We will see how it goes but it’s a very good start – we’ve enjoyed every single session with and without the ball. 

VERSUS MUNICH: Gael played at centre back at the Allianz Arena
VERSUS MUNICH: Gael played at centre back at the Allianz Arena

Gael is now one of the longest-serving players at the club after he joined from Arsenal in 2011.

It’s been a glorious five years for the articulate Frenchman, who has lifted the Premier League and Capital One Cup twice in sky blue.

As someone who has worked under some illustrious managers, such as Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, Gael is looking forward to what players like Lionel Messi, Phillip Lahm and Javier Mascherano have described as “the Pep effect”: defined as the improvement of already-stellar talents.

“It’s an amazing time to be here – he’s the kind of manager who will make you a better player whether you’re a goalkeeper, a defender, a midfielder or a striker,” he reflected.

"Even the staff around him he will make better because he’s so demanding of everyone and his standards are so high."

“When I first arrived here after eight years at Arsenal it was really exciting, then when Pellegrini came in it was the same – now this year it’s probably one of the good ones as we are able to train and learn from one of the best managers in the world – if not, the best!

“It’s a very interesting time we don’t want to say too much - we’ll see with the Sunderland game what happens there as that’s when it really matters.”

HOP TO IT: Gael training in Munich
HOP TO IT: Gael training in Munich

Gael is joined on the pre-season tour in China by Fabian Delph, who agrees that City have one of the best managers in the world.

Ever since Fabian came to City last summer, the pair have been inseparable, forming one of our strongest “bromances” at the club.

It’s a friendship that could last a lifetime.

“There are some people you have a good relation with and Fabian, from the first moment he arrived, we’ve been together,” Gael smiled.

“Every day that goes by we’re even closer – he’s a real friend.

“I believe that with Fabian it’s going to be a friendship that lasts a long time – it’s very good.”