1220 GMT February 17, 2020
But 45 minutes after the full-time whistle and with opposite number Jose Mourinho already heading home from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, stopping only to congratulate Steven Bergwijn’s family after his new signing’s impressive debut, the City players were still locked inside their changing room, goal.com reported.
Even Premier League officials and members of the club’s extended staff were locked out as the post-match debrief rumbled on.
Of course, Guardiola gave no indication of what was said, only revealing in his press conference that he was not angry. But looking at the gloomy faces of the players that trudged to the team bus, the City boss did not praise them for the way they dominated the opening 60 minutes in London.
The Catalan was frustrated with the manner of their defeat to old adversary Mourinho. Guardiola is notorious for the way he takes care of every detail in his preparation, so it’s alarming to see that a side of his has become so careless at times this season.
Against Tottenham, it dominated the first hour, creating and failing to take at least half a dozen good chances while stopping the home side from having a single shot on target. Three minutes later City was a man down, a goal down and heading for its sixth defeat of the season – as many as in Guardiola’s disappointing first season.
“I’m not angry,” he said following the game.
“When we didn’t play good or don't run or don’t fight [I'm angry]. This is a team built to play in a certain way, we have to be so precise.
“But never when we lose am I away from my players, because I know them, but we lost the game, we talk about moving forward and keep going, there’s a lot of months to play and we try to do it.”
City had 31 shots in its last two games against Spurs and Manchester United and failed to score in either of them. Its opponents had five attempts on goal and scored three times.
Former Barcelona striker Thierry Henry once revealed that Guardiola would tell his players that their job was to get the ball to the last third, the Frenchman’s job was to finish them.
At the moment, City’s forwards aren’t doing their job. Of the starters at Spurs, Raheem Sterling hasn’t scored for eight games and Riyad Mahrez for five – even Sergio Aguero’s hot streak has gone cold in the past week.
There was some bad luck – Aguero’s first half attempt deflecting onto the post. There were some nerves in front of goal – Ilkay Gundogan, who has never previously missed a penalty, having his spot-kick saved by Hugo Lloris. And there was some bad decision-making – Aguero and Gundogan leaving the ball to each other when Kevin De Bruyne laid on a perfect pullback. But for a team that has already past a century of goals for a third successive season, City again lacked the killer instinct.
“I don’t know, but this is the business, to win games and score more goals than the opponent, today we didn’t do that, but I don’t know another way to play good and create more chances than the opponent,” Guardiola added.
“I always believe for the statistics we create more than the opponent you normally win the games, that’s what we have to do, I know what you have to do, I’ve lived this position as a football player and a manager, it’s not the first time we’ve played good but not scored goals. We are going to work on that.”
But it was not just attacking where simple problems came. Oleksandr Zinchenko’s decision to nudge over Harry Winks for a stupid second yellow card was misjudged. As was Gundogan’s choice not to tactically foul the Spurs midfielder and take his first booking when he raced past. Then there was Nicolas Otamendi’s rash decision to lose Heung-min Son for the second that effectively killed off the game when 10-man City was still looking the more dangerous.
City is three weeks away from its crucial Champions League first leg with Real Madrid that could be a long way toward defining its season and Guardiola will be determined to go into that game with positive momentum.
Documentary cameras were around for City’s glorious 100-point title-winning season. It may have been far more interesting to have them filming the post-match of a campaign threatening to fall flat.