Manchester United legend Gary Neville has explained how the tactics of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola were key in last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final victory.
City won 2-0 at Old Trafford to set up a final clash with Tottenham for later this year, and there can be no arguing they were deserved winners last night.
Goals from John Stones and Fernandinho gave City the win at Man Utd, but Neville has also pointed out how Guardiola’s tactics in attack made it a difficult evening for Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.
The United centre-backs struggled with City’s lack of an orthodox forward, with Guardiola setting up with a false nine as he has often done in the past.
This meant Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne seemed to alternate as City’s main striker, arriving from deep to make it hard for Maguire and Lindelof to know who to mark.
Neville, speaking to Sky Sports after the game, said that this can be unnerving for central defenders.
“He’s done it before, Pep Guardiola, at different clubs,” Neville said. “It is unnerving as a centre-back when you’re playing the opposition and you don’t have anyone to mark.
“I’ve been there in Europe, playing at centre-back … where teams don’t play with conventional forwards. I think Harry Maguire and Lindelof had that in the first half tonight, working out what was going on.
“There was Mahrez nearest to them at times, then it was De Bruyne, then it was no one. Centre-backs don’t necessarily like that, they like to know where their men are.”