July 5, 2022, 12:36


Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Familiar issues for Pep Guardiola

Manchester City 1-1 Everton: Familiar issues for Pep Guardiola

Raheem Sterling’s late equaliser earned Manchester City a 1-1 draw at home to Everton but it was a night of all too familiar frustrations for Pep Guardiola, writes Adam Bate.

“It is so important,” Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports just before his team’s first home game of the season at the Etihad Stadium “Last season I think we were the best or second best team away. At home we were not good enough to fight for the Premier League. We have to try to be stronger here at home in front of our people.”

Naturally, City proceeded to drop two points – in Guardiola’s words – by drawing 1-1 with Everton. Raheem Sterling’s late volley salvaged the other one, despite the team having been reduced to 10 men following Kyle Walker’s red card late in the first half. By no means was this a disastrous start then, but it’s one that suggests some familiar problems still remain.

For example, Guardiola became increasingly incredulous last season due to City’s extraordinary capacity for conceding from the first shot on target that they faced. It had happened no fewer than seven times by mid-January of that campaign. The hapless Claudio Bravo even managed to let in seven consecutive shots directed towards his goal.

So what happened when Ederson was finally pressed into action 35 minutes into his home debut? It was inevitable. Wayne Rooney passed the ball between his legs and City were a goal down despite having dominated the game. Indeed, Leroy Sane had hit the post at the other end of the pitch only 50 seconds prior to the ball being in City’s own net.

It is too early to question Ederson, the £34.7m signing from Benfica, but expect rather less sympathy for the failings of those ahead of him. For all the money spent in the summer, City find themselves with a back three of Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones. They are little closer to persuading each other let alone the public that it is likely to work.

“The moment we feel mistakes, especially in defence, we lose a little confidence to play,” said Guardiola last season and Gary Neville emphasised that point before kick-off. “Mistakes cause anxiety and lack of trust then builds in the team,” he explained on Monday Night Football. But even before Everton’s goal, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was causing problems.

“After 25 minutes he had to switch his centre-backs because Otamendi could not handle Calvert-Lewin,” said Neville. It was Otamendi’s failure to cope that prompted the change but Kompany was the one culpable in stepping out in the build-up to the goal and Stones also gave Rooney too much space. “You can get at this back three,” Neville concluded.

As it happens, City did not concede a second despite being reduced to 10 men before the break. But this was just another example of a familiar frustration emerging for the City boss. Refereeing decisions were a regular source of angst for Guardiola last season. He even had meetings with referees’ chief Mike Riley to air some of his grievances.

“Maybe one day Mike Riley will explain it to me,” bemoaned Guardiola after Raheem Sterling was denied a clear penalty during a 2-2 draw with Tottenham in January. Who was the man who pushed Sterling? Then-Spurs man Walker. This time he was being sent from the field in a City shirt as a result of a questionable decision to award a second yellow card.

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City recovered well to get something but had to settle for a point despite peppering the Everton goal with 19 shots – the majority in the second half. “We have done everything,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “I don’t know how many chances we created?” Opta’s new ‘expected goals’ metric suggests those opportunities were roughly twice as good as Everton’s.

Again, nothing new there. The Catalan even capped things off by describing it as “one of the proudest days of his life” – the same phrase he used to describe another 1-1 home draw against Merseyside opposition back in March when Liverpool were the visitors to the Etihad Stadium. A sense of déjà vu then. Troubling for a club – and manager – anxious to improve.

Sourse: skysports.com

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