DANNY MURPHY: Manchester City have superstars but they aren’t afraid of hard graft

DANNY MURPHY: Man City have superstars but they aren’t afraid of hard graft… Pep Guardiola’s side laid down a marker in the title race at Chelsea, but they still need a striker

  • Manchester City laid down a marker in the title race as they overcame Chelsea 
  • Pep Guardiola’s stars showed that they are prepared to put in plenty of effort 
  • Phil Foden is a superb player but doesn’t seem suited to playing as a false nine 
  • Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was surprisingly reactive rather than proactive







This was Manchester City putting a marker down. It was a phenomenal performance against a team who beat them to win the Champions League. For everyone writing City off for the title this season, you were wrong. 

They also made a slow start this season so they’ve shown they can recover. It is why I tipped them again.

They have wonderful players who can produce breathtaking football. But the basis of Saturday’s win was how unbelievably important it is to also do your work off the ball.

Although Man City’s team is full of superstars, they are also prepared to work extremely hard

This wasn’t City just being intricate and technically brilliant, it was City being at their very best out of possession. The intensity of the press was astonishing and while Chelsea weren’t at their best, they weren’t allowed to be against a team who refused to let them play out.

City have a group of talented superstars, we know that, but they work tirelessly to win the ball back, again and again. That gave them the platform to dominate and create chances to have won by more.

Rodri was outstanding — and City fans must wish he’d played in the Champions League final — but Bernardo Silva was the biggest shining light. 

Bernardo Silva was excellent as he helped Manchester City to prevail against Chelsea

Pep Guardiola is known for trying different things and the way he’s asked the smallest player in the team, Bernardo, to get into the middle of the pitch to free up Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden has worked well this season.

In an orthodox central midfield berth, Bernardo has to receive the ball in tight positions that would be uncomfortable positions for less gifted players, but he was able to do that, and press, and track back.

You could have given six City players man-of-the-match — they were that good — but Bernardo epitomised the win because of his work ethic and decision-making.

City still need Harry Kane 

This time it was Phil Foden who played as a false nine, with Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish either side and Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres on the bench.

Pep’s decisions won them the game but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some stage we see Jesus as a more orthodox centre-forward because he always looks at his most comfortable there, and it’s from that central position he scored the winner by finding space from a short corner. 

Foden is terrific but lacks the pace to run in behind. I think that’s what kept Chelsea in the game as long as they did, because City weren’t clinical in the final third.

That lack of striker is still an issue for me following the failure to sign Harry Kane.

Phil Foden is a superb player, but the City youngster doesn’t seem suited to playing up front

Thomas Tuchel’s error

One attribute Thomas Tuchel has is an ability to change the game before anyone else realises it needs doing. For some reason he was reactive rather than proactive on Saturday. He waited for Chelsea to fall behind before correcting his earlier decision to play 3-5-2.

I can see why Tuchel wanted to stick with the formation that Chelsea finished at Spurs last weekend, particularly as Mason Mount was missing.

But by playing with wing-backs and a midfield trio of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho, it meant Chelsea went into the game with eight defensive-minded players and relying on only two attacking threats — Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. I would think that gave City encouragement.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was uncharacteristically reactive rather than proactive

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