The Reasons Why Pep Guardiola Has Played a “False Nine” at Manchester City
A tactical nuance that Pep Guardiola has turned to time and again during his hugely successful career in coaching is the so-called “false nine”. This system has contributed to winning league titles first in Spain and then England. While Guardiola’s Bayern Munich team were far less reliant on deploying a false nine, as he signed the prolific Poland striker Robert Lewandowski during his three years in Germany.
That is evidence the Catalan coach is not down on traditional centre forwards completely, but why has he reverted to type with Manchester City this season? It’s not a criticism of Guardiola by any means. The Etihad outfit have regained the Premier League trophy from Liverpool and done a domestic double again with yet another EFL Cup. So, his methods clearly and consistently bring about results measured easily enough in silverware.
Guardiola will try and deliver the holy grail of Champions League success to Man City when they meet Chelsea and complete a famous treble. While he has purchased strikers with David Villa another notable example, he’s also sold Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic, Edin Dzeko, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Wilfried Bony to name but a few.
Many of these centre forwards are tall, physical presences and perhaps not as cultured on the ball as Guardiola would like. Man City’s success this season has arguably been in spite of the strikers at his disposal, not because of them.
Sergio Aguero is the highest-scoring foreign player in Premier League history. His status as an Etihad great is not in doubt. Some of City’s most iconic moments since re-emerging as a force in English football involve Aguero. The fact remains, however, that he has had injury problems.
Guardiola is no different from any other manager in that he needs players fully fit and firing. Following a decade of great service since signing from Atletico Madrid in 2011, Aguero turns 33 in June and his prime years are behind him.
Aguero has been fit enough in Guardiola’s eyes to start just a handful of matches in all competitions this season. That has meant plenty of chances for long-time understudy Gabriel Jesus, who has been in the Man City XI on 28 occasions. His return, however, is just 13 in 38 games – about a goal every three matches.
That ratio is probably not good enough for a demanding manager like Guardiola, who also employs data-driven approaches to coaching by using apps and mobile technology. His scouts at City may be hunting for a new striker as Aguero departs the Etihad this summer.
Managers aren’t the only ones who engage with the beautiful game in a digital setting. Football fans play computer games like FIFA and PES, and there are even soccer-themed slots you can try through bonusfinder.com, a casino comparison site, such as Football: Champions Cup and Shoot! Enjoying football in a digital context has become a new way for fans to immerse themselves in the game and be more involved.
But, regardless of how well they perform in FIFA or PES, an out-of-form Jesus and the outgoing Aguero simply haven’t been trusted by Guardiola for performance and fitness reasons. It makes Man City wrestling the Premier League title even more impressive. So long as Guardiola remains a manager, expect to see him call upon the false nine when he feels it’s necessary.