Pep Guardiola believes his players' lack of desire — and not his tactics — to blame for Manchester City's defeat

Guardiola blamed City's defeat on the lack of personality in the first half against Monaco

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The Independent Football

Pep Guardiola blamed Manchester City’s European exit on his players’ lack of conviction and desire in the first half against Monaco.

City went 2-0 down in a dismal first half in Monaco, and went on to lose the game 3-1. Guardiola blamed their defeat on the lack of personality in that first half, rather than on the defence or on his own tactics. Instead, he pointed to a failure to follow his instructions to press high and try to win the game on the night.

“The problem was the first half when we were not there,” Guardiola explained in an impassioned post-match press conference. “Our strikers have to be aggressive and pick the ball up, but we didn't, at this crucial time. That's why we are out. The gap between our first and second half performances was too big.”

Guardiola’s instructions to his players are clear but he said that they did not put them into practice on the pitch, and that they did not do what he most demanded of them, trying to win the game.

“I don't think it was down to a tactical mistake,” said Guardiola. “It's simple. The difference between the first and the second half, the second half we tried to win the game. We tried to play.”

Guardiola accepted some of the blame, but only insofar as he failed to get his players to do what he wanted them to do.

“We wanted to show personality, not to let them think, but they could pass and pass the ball,” Guardiola said. “We forgot to do that in the first half. My mistake was being not able to convince them to do that. I did in the second half, but it was too late.”

Guardiola has nearly been at City one full season but clearly he does not feel that he has fully imposed his personality and his values on the squad yet.

“I tried to get them thinking about it, trying to get them to go and attack and score goals,” he said. “We have to have more experience of this, realising it doesn't matter if we win or lose, but we have to be what we are. Respect our style, our strengths. It doesn't matter if we lose but we have to be what we are.”