(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is struggling to impose his possession-based style of play on the team as the ball is rarely on the ground but is confident he will find a solution.
City made a flying start under Guardiola, winning their first 10 games, but have won just five times in 16 matches since, a run which has left them fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
“That unpredictable game here in England, that makes it so fascinating for the fans, because you never know what will happen... which makes it so beautiful,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“But to try to control it is a bit more difficult and we will need more time,” the Spaniard added.
“To adapt to the specific quality of this league... Many times the ball is more in the air than the grass, and I have to adapt. You have to adapt to the second ball, and the third ball, and the fourth. I never before was focused on that.”
Guardiola believes it will be clear by February whether City will be challenging for the league title.
“It will be tough, it will be really difficult. Of course we are going to see in February how our position is, and we’ll see after that if we can challenge or not,” he added.
Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is sure Guardiola will not buckle under pressure to tweak his tactics, which have served the manager so well during trophy-laden spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“Obviously, he has a different view than a lot of people, especially in England,” De Bruyne said.
“His way of playing is very different than a lot of teams in England, and I think English media and other people are trying to get into him or change his way of playing, but he’s never going to do it anyway,” the Belgian added.
“So they ask him the question of whether he’s going to change his playing style, but he does what he does, and I think he always sticks with it, and I think you have to do that as a coach.”
City host third-placed Arsenal on Sunday.
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond