His first season at City ended with the club finishing 15 points behind champions Chelsea and with a number of question marks over his team. But his success in turning his team into the best in the country was not purely down to some astute moves in the transfer market, generously backed by the clubs Abu Dhabi owners. Guardiola's commitment to a style of play based not only on exceptional ball-retention but also a sophisticated understanding of space and timing took time to embed in the habits of the players. An approach to the game which has a lineage back to the Dutch 'total football' of the early 1970s, taken to Barcelona by Johann Cruyff and which Guardiola has adapted and evolved, requires not only a top skillset from the players but a change of mentality.
Pep Guardiola adds another trophy to his collection. pic.twitter.com/dS8KtN5eSi— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 15, 2018
Guardiola believes that top-quality footballers can play anywhere on the field, whatever their formal role, and expects his defenders to be comfortable on the ball and his forwards to be able to work hard off it in order to be in the right places for an eventual transition. This season, the Spaniard has gone beyond encouraging defenders to pass the ball out of defence rather than launch long balls by bringing his goalkeeper Ederson into the passing game, transforming City into an 11-man passing machine, playing with precision over the full length of the pitch. One of his summer signings, Kyle Walker, was already a proven attacking wing-back when Guardiola brought him from Tottenham, but he now looks at home playing as a more central defender and in Guardiola's clever approach of moving fullbacks into holding midfield roles when the team is in possession.
?????? Pep Guardiola is the first Spanish manager to win the #PL title ? Previous winners: Four Italians: Conte, Ancelotti, Ranieri, Mancini Two Scots: Ferguson, Dalglish One Frenchman: Wenger One Chilean: Pellegrini One Portuguese: Mourinho#Champions pic.twitter.com/zgs1gVD9Q2— Premier League (@premierleague) April 15, 2018