Guardiola accused of copying Man Utd tactic as City hunt down Arsenal

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Pep Guardiola has copied an old Sir Alex Ferguson tactic as Manchester City attempt to chase down Arsenal, claims Graeme Souness. The Liverpool legend says the City boss’ treatment of Kevin De Bruyne is akin to what his fellow Scot used to do at Manchester United.

Guardiola recently called out De Bruyne, stating the Belgian must pick up his form. He said he must start to do the simple things again after being left out of his team on a couple of occasions of late.

Erling Haaland was also called upon to be “better” by Guardiola. The Norwegian responded by scoring five goals against RB Leipzig, while De Bruyne was also on fine form for the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie.

Souness believes it is a deliberate tactic from Guardiola to demand more from his best players to get other squad members to improve. He says Ferguson used to do that with the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs at United.

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Souness wrote in the Mail: “De Bruyne has been City’s best player for the last five years. Yet this season he hasn’t played in some important games.

“I was at the one City lost at Spurs in February, for example, and he didn’t start that day. Strange. And now Guardiola has dug him out a little in public. This week he said De Bruyne had to get back to doing the simple things well.

“I have my theories about why this may have happened. It could be part of a deliberate tactic aimed at motivating the whole squad.

“Someone told me that Sir Alex Ferguson used to do this with Ryan Giggs. He would deliberately pick on him and sometimes David Beckham in front of the other Manchester United players. 

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“It would send the squad a message that nobody – even the two best players at the club – was safe from criticism. It would help to make sure a talented group of footballers kept their feet on the ground.

“So maybe Guardiola is doing that. Maybe he is poking De Bruyne in order to make sure the rest are ready to up their levels ahead of the most important part of a season that has not always felt easy for them. For all I know, De Bruyne may even be in on it.”

City are five points behind Arsenal in the title race. Ferguson was managing United when the Gunners last finished top of the pile in 2004.

Guardiola’s side don’t play in the league again until April 1. Arsenal can extend the gap to eight points when they play Crystal Palace on Sunday.

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