Men's Team

Guardiola rues uncharacteristic build-up play after goalless draw

BOSSES: Guardiola and Hasenhuttl watch on.
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City’s build-up play was not up to its usual standard in the goalless draw against Southampton.

The manager identified a lack of quality passes from midfield and defence into the front three of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish as the main reason why his side were unable to take all three points against the stubborn Saints.

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City had scored 17 goals in our previous four games coming into this fixture, but were made to wait until the 90th minute for a first shot on target, when substitute Phil Foden forced Alex McCarthy into a save with his header.

It made for a frustrating afternoon for the home side, with Guardiola left ruing the fact his team did not play with their usual fluidity in possession.

“Today we didn’t win not because we don’t have a centre-forward,” he explained at his post-match press conference.

“We didn’t win because the process to build up, to create, to give better balls to the players up front was not good.

“When it is good, you can run, you arrive in better positions. Of course, we had just one shot on target, but there were four or five blocked in the six-yard box, so we were there.

“That is not the reason [we didn’t win]. The reason is because we didn’t do the process for our back four and Fernandinho.

“The five guys who have to bring the ball to the other players was not good today.”

WATCH: City 0-0 Southampton: Brief highlights

Southampton matched City for long spells in what was a fairly even contest.

The hosts created the majority of the chances, but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men defended stoically to reduce the reigning Premier League champions’ attacking threat and Guardiola acknowledged the visitors made it difficult for his team to execute their usual game plan.

“There are many ways to score a goal,” he added. “You can be set back and counter-attack or you can be direct.

“Our process is the goalkeeper passes to the central defenders, the central defenders pass to the full-backs, they pass to the holding midfielders, the attacking midfielders pass the ball to the wingers.

“In that process, we travel, we fly, we live all together to make the transition. This is our way.

“This process from the beginning was not perfectly what we wanted. It was difficult sometimes because the opponent was good. They defended well.

“Sometimes it is difficult and the opponent is involved in that. We cannot forget that. Sometimes we need more time to train, to practice. Today was like this.

“We struggled for the first 15 minutes in each half, but in the last 30 minutes we were better.”

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