Dominance is key to victory: Guardiola

Manchester City defender John Stones celebrating after scoring their fifth goal against West Ham on Friday. City won the FA Cup third-round tie 5-0.
Manchester City defender John Stones celebrating after scoring their fifth goal against West Ham on Friday. City won the FA Cup third-round tie 5-0.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola challenged his Manchester City players to prove they are back in the groove by following their FA Cup demolition of West Ham with a long winning streak.

The Spaniard has been frustrated with his players lately after they struggled to carry out his game plan in a series of erratic displays.

But the City manager was smiling from ear to ear after Friday's 5-0 victory in the third round offered hope his side have finally recaptured the swaggering form they showed at the start of the season.

Guardiola is adamant maintaining that kind of dominant display is the only way City will make up ground on Premier League leaders Chelsea and sustain their challenges in the FA Cup and Champions League.

"Finally, we were able to keep the ball more than the last games," Guardiola said after strikes from Yaya Toure, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and John Stones, plus a Havard Nordtveit own goal, cemented the rout.

"In the last month or so, our passing was up and down and our game was unpredictable, but today we controlled it the way we played earlier this season.

"Hopefully it can help our players believe that they are good enough to play that way every game."

The Spaniard added that City enjoyed the feeling of time and space in possession thanks to the showpiece venue that is the London Stadium.

"In England the stadiums are close - it looks like the space is smaller, the opponent arrives quicker. Here (at the London Stadium), it looks like you have more time," he said. "It's not the reason why we won, but maybe it helped us a little bit."

With a nine-day gap until City's next match, Guardiola can afford to focus on potential new signings and will speak to the club about bringing in at least one player before the transfer window shuts at the end of this month.

City are reportedly interested in the Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber, a player Guardiola coached at the Bavarian club.

"When something happens with injuries we don't have enough (options)," Guardiola said. "We will see if there is a possibility to take one.

"I know Holger, he's a fantastic player, a fantastic guy, but he's a Bayern Munich player. Of course, first of all we should speak with them, with him. We have 10 days off until the Everton game. So we have time to discuss what is the best until the end of the season."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'Dominance is key to victory: Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe