Guardiola, between Bravo and Ter Stegen

Innovators are so often viewed with suspicion

The beating that Pep Guardiola suffered at the Camp Nou earlier this week left him under fire from the British public and media. Innovators are so often viewed with scepticism and that’s even more so the case in football, a world so instilled in its own traditions and ways of doing things. The other day I spoke about Sampaoli in the same way in this column. In Seville they look at him with suspicion, the same way they looked at Guardiola on his first day in Munich. The same is now happening to Pep in England. Barcelona was different. His track record as a player and emotional importance to the club was such that he was able to develop his project. But away from the Camp Nou?

A difficult night for Pep at the Camp Nou

4-0 wasn't an accurate reflection of the game

That lingering doubt continues to hang over Guardiola, and Wednesday’s 4-0 defeat won’t help things. Football is inevitably a results game. This result was awful, but in reality it wasn’t an accurate reflection of the match. City had a number of good chances but Ter Stegen was excellent between the sticks. The German played the ball out whenever he could, avoiding unnecessary risks, and made some magnificent saves with both his hands and his legs. At the other end, the City defence made some terrible mistakes, in particular for the first and third goals. And, just after half time, Claudio Bravo got himself senselessly sent off. As if facing Leo Messi wasn’t enough.

Claudio Bravo's senseless sending off at the start of the second half paved the way for disaster

Bravo made an error no sensible player would make

With Bravo we must remember the things we said about Ter Stegen after Barcelona’s 4-3 loss to Celta Vigo earlier this month. One thing is to be good with the ball at your feet and being able to play the ball out from the back but another is to take risks that no remotely sensible footballer would take in that area of the pitch. I can’t imagine Piqué doing what Bravo did, and if he did at least he’d have a goalkeeper behind him. Bravo didn’t, obviously. To sign him Pep sacrificed Joe Hart, England’s first-choice goalkeeper. That alone should be enough for Bravo to be a little more careful with his feet. His error left City undermanned, a big factor in the inflated score line and Guardiola’s embarrassment.