Men's Team

Lee Dixon: Guardiola’s use of full-backs is fascinating

Lee Dixon: Guardiola’s use of full-backs is fascinating
Lee Dixon says he has been left fascinated by the way in which Pep Guardiola uses his full-backs.

The Arsenal legend, who made the right-back slot his own during his 14-years at Highbury, admits the role at Manchester City is completely different to when he was playing, but loves the new demands Guardiola has brought to the position.

Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker were central pillars of City’s success last season, with the former regularly playing like an auxiliary midfielder, whilst the latter’s objectives can change multiple times in one game.

And it is the level of adaptability Guardiola demands in particular, that Dixon greatly admires.

“It’s not a role I look at and am familiar with,” the boyhood City fan told mancity.com.

“I could be a dinosaur and say the full-backs these days can’t defend. Of course they can. They just defend in different ways and are asked to do different jobs.

“It is a slightly different position in lots of ways, but it still boils down to keeping the ball out of the net and whether you do that with a flat back four or full-backs pushed in with the ball and sometimes playing in a more central midfield area, it is fascinating for me.

“Now it’s my job to analyse and commentate on it and it is a lot more interesting for me to work in the game now than if all the systems had stayed the same and Pep’s ideas weren’t out there.

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“I have played against him a few times, but I’ve not met him as a coach. He intrigues me with his ideas.

“We have all got an opinion on how the game should be played, but the fact that he is so fluid and changes his system during the game and asks his full-backs to do different jobs is fascinating and I love all that, the adaptability the players have got now.”

Cancelo and Walker’s efforts at full-back were complemented by the outstanding performances of John Stones and Ruben Dias as City reclaimed our Premier League crown last season.

Guardiola’s men boasted the best defence in the country, an achievement Dixon is familiar with, having been one quarter of a watertight, title-winning Arsenal back four alongside Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Nigel Winterburn.

Dias, who signed a new contract earlier this week, was the standout performer as City kept clean sheet after clean sheet and whilst his individual displays proved hugely impressive, the former Gunners man believes he deserves credit for the influence he had on his team-mates.

“His impact at City, who needed stability in that position, was obvious, added the 57-year-old.

“It’s like Lukaku now, he is making the other players around him different because they can see the type of game he is playing.

“It’s the same with Dias. They could see the type of player he is and how assured he is.

“I think his influence on the players around him has been as impactful as his performances as a player.

“We have seen that with how settled the back four look. To become first pick is a testament to himself.”

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