(The Guaradian) - Guardiola said that Manchester City had enjoyed the feeling of time and space in possession thanks to the showpiece venue that is the London Stadium
, as they strolled to a 5-0 FA Cup third-round victory over West Ham United.
David Silva pulled the strings from midfield, scoring one of the goals, and Guardiola, who had come under pressure beforehand, could revel in how his team had played precisely the way that he had wanted them to.
They had not, he said, managed to do so in recent weeks, but this was much more like the touch City showed at the start of the season, when they opened up with 10 consecutive wins in all competitions.
“In the last month and a half or two months, we were not able to make narrow passes and our game was unpredictable, in the sense that the ball was always up and down, up and down,” Guardiola said. “Today we controlled a bit more, through the passes. The pitch, the stadium, helped us in that sense.
“It looks like it’s bigger. It’s an impression. Here in England, the stadiums are close – it looks like the space is smaller, the opponent arrives quicker. Here [at the London Stadium] it looks like you have more time. I don’t know if it’s an impression. Maybe I’m wrong. My impression is that the rain, the pitch, was good. It’s not the reason why we won, but maybe it helped us a little bit.
“The way we played – finally, we could recover what we expected, what we tried for at the beginning, especially in the first part of the season. Hopefully we can start again to play in that [way]. It’s the only way, in this kind of team. We are not strong enough, like the other ones. We are not fast enough, like the other ones. We have to try to play with the ball, as much as possible. If not, all the other contenders are stronger than us.’
Slaven Bilic, the West Ham manager, grumbled a little about City’s opening goal, which came from the penalty spot. The award, he said, following contact from Angelo Ogbonna on Pablo Zabaleta, was “a bit soft”. But he conceded he was in no position to complain after what had been a comprehensive City victory.
“It was a very bad night for us,” Bilic said. “It’s hard to say anything positive when it finishes like this. I can understand Guardiola’s comments about the stadium. It’s a great stadium, a big pitch and you have space. But we gave them space too.”
It was Guardiola’s first taste of the FA Cup and it was fair to say that he felt its romance. “I’m delighted to be part of the FA Cup this year,” he said. “In Spain it’s completely different – it’s two legs, so the strongest team always goes through. It’s almost impossible to be eliminated. Here, the people spoke a lot before I came, and now during the season, about how important this cup is. Anything can happen. Today was a final.”
Guardiola also commented on City’s interest in the Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber, a player he coached at the Bavarian club. “If something happens with injuries, we don’t have enough [in defence],” Guardiola said. “We are now evaluating if there is a chance, a possibility, to take one.
“I know Holger, he’s a fantastic player, a fantastic guy, but he’s a Bayern Munich player. Of course, first of all we should speak with them, with him. We have ten days off until the Everton game. So we have time with [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain], with the club, to discuss what is the best until the end of the season.”