31 July 2017

Pep Guardiola says £35million Ederson can help Manchester City score more… through his goal kicks

PEP GUARDIOLA arrived at Manchester City hailed as the high priest of the beautiful game.

The Catalan had built a Barcelona side the envy of the world — a team that set out to pass opponents to death and then stick the knife in for fun.

Pep Guardiola’s spell at Barcelona made him one of the most wanted managers in football
AFP – Getty
The Spaniard is now hoping to emulate his dominance at Man City

At Bayern Munich, ‘keeper Manuel Neuer’s skills with his feet made him the team’s 11th outfield player — and Guardiola reinvented the wheel all over again.

Pep turned up at the Etihad and promptly dumped Joe Hart because he did not feel the England keeper was good enough outside the box.

He persisted with Hart’s replacement, Chilean Claudio Bravo, despite a series of high-profile errors. No matter what happened, Guardiola refused to back down.

But when his Plan B for the new season was unveiled in Nashville on Saturday night, it was no surprise that Tottenham did not see it coming.

While Guardiola versions one and two were all about possession and precision, it appears one of his biggest weapons this time round will be a keeper who can launch it 75 yards on to a bottle top.

And the City boss is convinced his new £34.9million keeper Ederson will give opposing defenders nightmares this season — through his huge GOAL KICKS.

Ederson’s average goal kick is some 22 yards longer than Claudio Bravo’s
Former Benfica keeper Ederson Moraes arrived for £34.9m
Ederson showcased his wide range of passing against Tottenham
Pep Guardiola believes Ederson’s long kicks will cause problems next season

Spurs, boasting the best defence in the Prem last season, were completely cut apart when the Brazilian’s enormous pinpoint delivery created a second-half chance for Sergio Aguero.

From his own six-yard box, the ball flew through the air and landed right beyond the Spurs back line and at Aguero’s feet.

The prolific Argentine was clean through — but for once his own radar was off and his effort came back off the post with Michel Vorm utterly beaten. Not so much tiki-taka nowadays then — more like tiki-whacka.

There is no more direct style of football than that.

Aguero latched onto a long goal kick by Ederson against Spurs
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were blown away by Man City
Getty Images – Getty

And that moment — towards the end of an impressive display by Manchester City in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium — certainly had Pep purring.

His team played some irresistible stuff with pace and purpose in what could have been a Tennessee honky-tonking for a Tottenham team that looked well off the pace.

But it was Ederson’s big hoof which really got the manager animated afterwards. And he knows from personal experience it will give rival bosses a serious headache.

Pep smiled: “Ederson has this quality, in the goal kicks when the opposition makes high pressing and it’s complicated.

“Now we have the chance to put the ball in the other box — and of course we have a little bit more space in the middle.

This shows how Man City could be different from Barcelona
Sun Graphics
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says that large transfer fees are here to stay

“And he created a good chance for Sergio to score a goal.

“When I was at Bayern Munich, we played Benfica in the Champions League and he was there.

“When we tried to analyse them, we saw it four or five times and we organised a meeting to say, ‘Guys, what’s the matter? What is that?’.

“We tried to work about that because he has this quality to put the ball in the other box and it’s not offside.

“We spread out the opponents and we can have more space in the middle.”

Ederson caused problems for Pep Guardiola while at Benfica
Getty – Contributor

It would be interesting to get the thoughts of Hart and Bravo when they hear Guardiola raving about a keeper’s long kick.

England No 1 Hart, of course, has already been shipped out again, on loan to West Ham, while Willy Caballero has joined Chelsea as Thibaut Courtois’ understudy.

Bravo, despite being relegated down the pecking order by former Benfica man Ederson, 23, was promised he will still have a role to play.

Guardiola said: “He’s a goalkeeper with us, he will be with us, then get fit and after that I will decide.

West Ham signed Joe Hart on loan
Willy Caballero signed for Chelsea this summer
Getty – Contributor

“Last season sometimes I played Willy and then I played Claudio and then I played Willy and after it was Claudio.

“I will see what is going to happen. I do not say what is going to happen.

“I’ll learn from my nine years as a manager.

“So I have an idea and, after, I go to the training sessions and I have a look — I watch my players.

“Claudio is a captain of a national team who never used to win anything special. And I know how important he was in the two Copa Americas and the final of the Confederations Cup.

Claudio Bravo is the hero for Chile with great saves in the penalty shootout against Portugal

“I never had doubts about the quality of Claudio but we decided to buy Ederson.

“He has shown us amazing things in this period, not just the goal kicks but also saving a lot of shots and how quickly he closes the space for the strikers.

“With his feet he always decides well, with the long and the short passes.

Pep Guardiola kept his cards close to his chest ahead of next season
Rex Features

“He reads the decisions well, that’s why I wanted him — because, to compete at a high level we need two excellent goalkeepers. If we don’t have that, we can’t compete.”

Last season, overplaying from the back cost City dear.

If nothing else, it seems Guardiola is not too proud to change after all.

But it seems all very different from those Iniesta-Xavi-Messi combinations on the Barca passing “carousel”.

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