Pep Guardiola admits that he is still adapting to the physical side of the Premier League

The former Barcelona manager spoke to Thierry Henry about his time in England so far

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City, Leicester City,

Image: Mike Egerton EMPICS Sport

Pep Guardiola is not enjoying his best run as a manager in the Premier League, with many questioning whether or not he has fully understood how different the game in England is. 

Although his side has lost just three league games this term, they suffered big defeats against Chelsea and Leicester, which have put the Catalan under a bit of pressure from the media. 

Asked what the hardest thing about his team's performances in the league to date has been, he stated that the physical side of the game in England was proving more difficult than he had imagined.

"To adapt to the specific qualities of this league is the hardest thing. I try to play in one way all my career, and, for example, in terms of high pressing, here it's not allowed. Many times the ball is more in the air than on the grass, and I have to adapt to that.

"When I was in Munich I spoke with Xabi Alonso, and he said: 'You'll have to have to adapt to the second balls'. And I thought: 'Ah, it's OK, the second ball', but it's real. You have to adapt to the second ball, and the third ball and the fourth. 

"I never before was focused on that, never. Because in Barcelona and Spain, some people try to do that, but more or less the culture is that you try to play. That's why they won World Cups, European Cups, Champions Leagues, and Europa Leagues. 

"In Germany, it was more physical a little bit, but not like here," he added. "They are taller, and they are stronger, and they are physical."

Asked by his former player Thierry Henry about the current run of form his team is on, Guardiola said that he always knew he would need to face a difficult stretch at some point, as that is merely part of a manager's career.

Manchester City are not at the top of the table, a situation that seems extraordinary given Guardiola's dominance in the other leagues in which he has managed, but he stated that his table-topping adventures were the part that should be viewed as outside the norm. 

"I think what I'm living, all the mangers in the world are living. The exception, the piece that feels a bit unreal, is in the past," said Guardiola. "You have to build something and we're in the process of getting better. I am focused more on understanding the league [...] and all my players." 

While he admitted that his side is conceding more than he would like, he stated that the bigger picture was on his mind when it comes to his time in charge with the Manchester club.

"I would like to finish the season with the team playing how I want," said Guardiola. "Always I am there, on the bench, and we are spectators. When I am sitting there, I want to stand up, looking at my team, and what I see is what I want. The biggest frustration would be finishing a period here at City and the team didn't play the way you wanted."