Pep Guardiola bans Man City from excess running after hard work caused slump

Pep Guardiola has banned his Manchester City stars from running too much.

The Spaniard reckons his players were working too hard at the start of the season when results went against them.

But a return to the tiki-taka style that helped City win back-to-back Premier League titles has seen Guardiola's men reel off six straight wins to get their campaign back on track.

Guardiola, whose side host Brighton tomorrow night, said: "The only difference now is that we run less.

"We were running too much, with football you have to walk – or run much less. Without the ball you have to run, but with the ball you stay more in position and let the ball run, not you. That's improved in these games.

"From day one we lost it a bit this season. It was my fault – the message was not clear, but we came back with the principles, especially because the players needed time to get the best condition after no pre season.

"After good results and performances the players visualise they can do it again, in the way we did it in the past."

City can climb into the top four with a win over the Seagulls and then leapfrog Liverpool into second if they win their other game in hand.

But Guardiola, who will be without Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero, admits he is happy to fly under the radar and allow Jurgen Klopp's men and current leaders Manchester United to get all the attention.

He added: "We didn't play well in the beginning to deserve to be up there, so in the end the people who analyse the games say we are not (title) candidates and others are.

"The public opinion said we do not deserve to be contenders. We tried to say to the players 'be calm', because this is a strange situation and the most intelligent thing I can say is Brighton, Brighton, Brighton.

"We want to stay in the competitions and hopefully we can arrive at the last few games and try to fight for the title."

MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3):Steffen; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling.

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