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Fernandinho: Liverpool Are Man City’s Biggest Rival, Not United

Fernandinho Unravels the Genius of Pep Guardiola and Manchester City

“In conversation with Fernandinho”, a recent column by Alan Shearer for The Athletic, offers a rare and insightful glimpse into Pep Guardiola’s football philosophy at Manchester City. The former City skipper and current Athletico Paranaense midfielder dissects Guardiola’s approach, underlining the genius of his “simple” football, and reflects on his remarkable journey at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola: Making Football Simple and Beautiful

“[Guardiola] makes you understand that football is more simple than you think,” Fernandinho shared during the candid discussion with Shearer, providing an unusual insight into the secret behind City’s fluid and free-flowing football. He attributed his own improvement and the prolific success of strikers under Guardiola to the gaffer’s unyielding focus on making his players a better version of themselves.

According to Fernandinho, the essence of Guardiola’s ‘simple football’ ethos is epitomised in the exquisite goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final second leg, courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Fernandinho points out the importance of timing, movement, short passes and proper space occupation in executing this philosophy.

Fernandinho credits Guardiola’s profound influence for his growth and maturity, stating:

“I’ve always said I’m the living proof that everything people say about him is true.”

He emphasises that working with Guardiola, even at the age of 30, dramatically improved his technical, tactical and physical skills.

He also touched on how Guardiola’s football vision has transformed his own perception of the game. Fernandinho’s sentiments echo the experience of many other City players, testament to the transformative power of Guardiola’s management style.


The Magic of Manchester City

Despite leaving the Etihad Stadium last summer, Fernandinho’s affection for Manchester City remains undiminished. He still identifies closely with the team, following their games and maintaining contact with the players and staff.

“I’m still feeling part of the process and I’m feeling part of the team and part of those group of people because they are amazing,” he adds.

While reflecting on his exit from City, Fernandinho admits that it was a decision motivated by the desire to continue playing football regularly, a wish that would have been difficult to fulfil at City given his age.

Fernandinho’s future seems promising, albeit a bit uncertain. While not keen on becoming a traditional manager, he envisions himself playing a pivotal role in nurturing young talent. Whether that will be in the capacity of a sporting director or a coach working alongside others, remains to be seen. His passion for the game and his vast experience, however, suggest a fruitful career ahead in whichever path he chooses.

The Haaland Dynamic

The tactical versatility that he speaks about is indeed a hallmark of Guardiola’s coaching style and is a key reason why City has been so successful in recent years. Erling Haaland’s presence has undoubtedly added a new dynamic to their attack, and the transformation of players such as John Stones is testament to the adaptive tactics used by Guardiola.

Fernandinho’s observation about needing to be multilingual and versatile in different positions to excel under Guardiola is fascinating. It speaks to the mental agility required of players in modern football, particularly in a team coached by someone as tactically fluid as Guardiola.

Photo: IMAGO

The intensity of the Champions League campaign and the interactions between players and coaches are often shrouded in mystery, so Fernandinho’s take on Kevin De Bruyne’s altercation with Pep offers a glimpse behind the curtain. This intensity, Fernandinho suggests, is sometimes necessary to push players to their best. His comments on how to manage different player personalities provide an interesting peek into the leadership dynamics in a top-flight football club.

Fernandinho also brings to light the historical rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as the shifts in power dynamics in Manchester football over the past decade. He recognises Liverpool as City’s main competition in terms of performance, showing how much the Premier League has evolved.

The Great Disruptors

The discussions on the Champions League, the treble, and Manchester City’s rivalry with United serve as reminders of the high stakes that these players deal with regularly, and the expectations that come with being a part of such a successful team.

The comparison of Newcastle and Manchester City as “outsiders and disruptors” is an interesting perspective, highlighting the impact of club takeovers and the subsequent changes in club fortunes.

Lastly, his comments on the “us against the world” mentality, Newcastle’s resurgence, and the Premier League charges show how off-field issues can impact teams and player mentality.

Shearer’s conversation with Fernandinho provides a unique insight into the workings of Manchester City and Guardiola’s management style. The discussion sheds light on the principles of Guardiola’s ‘simple football’ philosophy, the factors contributing to Fernandinho’s evolution as a player and his deep-seated affinity for Manchester City. As the ex-City man embarks on the next chapter of his career, his reflections give us a glimpse into the future, too.

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