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Sport

05th Jan 2017

Gary Lineker offers his theory about Pep Guardiola’s Man City struggles

It's still early days for the Man City boss.

Tom Victor

It’s not that long ago that people were already rushing to congratulate Pep Guardiola on a Premier League title, such was the flair with which his Manchester City side began the season.

Of course, things are not decided in September, and City have fallen away to the point that they are no longer certain to even make the top four, let alone win the title.

Guardiola’s team are fourth in the table, closer to sixth-place Manchester United than they are to leaders Chelsea, and their manager’s recent post-match interview after a narrow victory over Burnley has left some suggesting he could be already fed up with English football.

However, Gary Lineker, who played for Barcelona when a young Guardiola was coming through the club’s academy, believes we have misjudged the mood of the former Spain international.

Speaking to JOE’s Tony Barrett, Lineker suggested a difference in footballing cultures between England and Spain could be responsible not just for the interview flashpoint, but also for some of Guardiola’s early struggles in the Premier League.

“I don’t know whether he was just tetchy or if there’s a bit of disdain for those interviewing him,” Lineker explains.

“I think it’s pretty clear that he isn’t particularly keen on doing interviews but that’s part of the job, and I think it’s also fair to say that the perception of our journalism abroad is that we focus less on tactics and more on incidents, whether they’re on or off the pitch.

As for the culture-shock of a move to England, the face of BBC Football¬†notes that “Every country has a different football culture and that means that anyone coming into a new one will need time to adapt”.

“In this country it’s a bit more up and at ’em than Pep has been used to in Spain and Germany, even though English football is undoubtedly becoming more tactical and more technical than it has been in the past.

“In Spain they play a certain way and you will see most teams follow a similar style, whereas in England there are variety of styles.

“But that range of styles is why the Premier League is the most interesting in world football, and arguably the most entertaining, and it’s also one of the reasons why coaches like Pep want to come here and test themselves.”

City travel to West Ham for their FA Cup third round tie on Friday, before rounding off the month with a couple of big Premier League games away to Everton and at home to Tottenham.

And, even if things don’t go to plan in the coming weeks, Lineker is confident that Guardiola has plenty more to offer on these shores.

“He doesn’t just have a record for winning, he has earned a reputation for being a coach who changes the way we think about football and how it is played,” he adds.

“That leads me to believe that it is only a matter of time before he gets it right in this country and I’m expecting his second season to be much more straightforward than his first.”

Gary Lineker presents live FA Cup 3rd round coverage of West Ham v Manchester City on Friday January 6 (7.55pm, BBC One) and Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa on Sunday January 8 (4pm, BBC One)