Man City's Pep Guardiola doesn't regret controversial 'tackling' comment
MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola has no regrets despite being criticised for saying he "didn't coach tackles" after Manchester City's heavy defeat at Leicester City last season.
City return to the King Power Stadium where they suffered a humiliating 4-2 loss last December with only two late goals making the scoreline more flattering for Guardiola's side.
Guardiola faced some criticism after City failed to win a tackle in an opening 35 minutes where they conceded three goals and were completely overrun by the Foxes.
The Catalan hasn't changed his principles, with City in third for the fewest tackles this season and fourth for fewest tackles won, despite them opening up an eight-point gap at the top of the table.
"Tackles are so important because they are part of the game, but they are not the most important issue of the game from my point of the game," Guardiola told a news conference.
"When you go down in a tackle, you are in trouble. Try to focus on playing better with the ball and you will avoid a lot of tackles.
"But the reality is we didn't lose at Leicester because we didn't tackle. We lost because Leicester were better and we played not good.
"I don't know that you have to spend time practising tackles. I don't spend my time practising tackles. Tackles are like one guy has the talent to do tackles, one guy has the talent to do headers, and one guy shoots and scores a lot of goals. But I never spend time practising tackles."
Guardiola insists there are plenty of areas on the pitch where his players can improve and that they work on making improvements after every game.
"They are shown the mistakes they do every single game and where they can improve," he said.
"Individual mistakes influence the group and the opposite way. The moment they don't believe they can be better, then that's the moment we crash, to fall down. It will be boring if they have [already cracked it] -- a big mistake.
"They will do a big mistake when they think we've done enough until now. When we analyse the results, there is nothing to say.
"But when you see the games -- picking out the mistakes -- and we have 10 mistakes the same then there is a reason to work for the future."
Guardiola hailed the continuing improvement of defender John Stones at the heart of Manchester City's defence.
After mixed fortunes in his first season following his £47.5 million move from Everton, 23-year-old Stones -- who also impressed with England recently -- now looks an accomplished figure.
And Guardiola said: "We cannot forget that last season was the first time he was able to play three games a week. Everton -- they play once a week. Here you have the Champions League, you need a process to settle.
"He became a father and that helped his life to be well organised. He has this amazing quality to understand the game, to be calm, to read the next pass.
"Every game last season he made one or two mistakes and this season that is more irregular.
"He is more mature but he's still young and it depends on him if he wants to become better. Hopefully he still has the desire to improve because there are many things to improve with and without the ball.''
Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.