Pep Guardiola was not at his creative best as his Manchester City side were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool on Sunday, believes Gary Neville.
The Premier League champions were downed at Anfield and have slipped to nine points behind Jurgen Klopp’s men as a result.
Guardiola has been hit with a number of injuries, particularly in defence, with Ederson, Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko among the stricken players.
Neville believes that the centre-back pairing of John Stones and Fernandinho was part of the problem as City were beaten on Merseyside, and was surprised that the innovative Spaniard did not come up with a better plan.
‘I just felt that Pep Guardiola would have something different for us today, something that was unique and unexpected,’ Neville told Sky Sports. ‘It’s what we’ve come to expect over the last five, 10, 15 years watching him coach.
‘I got what was normal, what was expected, the team the newspapers probably predicted this morning. Stones and Fernandinho at centre-back, I didn’t see anything different about it.
‘Man City played well from a football point of view, but that back four and that goalkeeper were never going to be able to play deal with this ground. Forget the team, the strikers, this ground.
‘You have to have a toughness and an authority like you would not beleive to come and play a big game here, it’s the toughest of places and Man City did not have that in defence today.
‘Whether they would have been better with Stones, Fernandinho and [Nicolas] Otamendi in a back three with wing-backs. Whether they could have gone with something completely bizarre, which is what you expect from Pep – innovative, creative, something that shocks you.
‘Even if it doesn’t come off, he’s tried to do something, but this was not very Pep-like today.’
Other defensive options Nicolas Otamendi and Joao Cancelo were left on the bench, while Benjamin Mendy was not even included in the squad, despite seemingly being fit.
While Neville was critical of how Guardiola lined up defensively, Jose Mourinho said the Spaniard made a mistake with how he deployed Kevin de Bruyne.
The Belgian was in a more advanced role than usual, which the Portuguese believes hampered City going forward and at the back.
‘I didn’t like during the game the position of De Bruyne,’ said Mourinho. ‘Even by the offensive point of view the team lost a lot with him playing in this position that is not his natural position.
‘Defensively in the first goal he doesn’t have to be worried with the centre-backs, I think he has to compact, and if he is compact then Fabinho is not free to score.’
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