Pep Guardiola has dismissed the notion his Premier League rivals have already worked him out.
But the Manchester City boss believes it will take time to fully combat the measures opponents are using to nullify his side.
Guardiola’s superb start to life at City has been tempered by a failure to win any of their last six games in all competitions – the worst sequence of the Catalan’s managerial career.
All seemed positive as Guardiola’s men swept to victory in their opening 10 matches but rival managers have since urged their teams to press high and disrupt City’s attempts to play out from the back.
Guardiola said: “That has always happened in my career. In seven years, when you want to play build-up some opponents play high pressing and it is how to solve that.
“I know what you have to do in these cases but sometimes you need time to make it better.
“I don’t think this is the situation (reason) why we didn’t win the games.”
In recent games against Barcelona and Southampton, City were heavily punished for individual errors, but Guardiola is not dwelling on that and focusing on the lack of potency evident against Manchester United in midweek.
He said: “I never said to my players or in my press conference the reason why we lost is this guy make a mistake. We try to correct so we make less mistakes in the build-up than before.
“Until the goal from United we had more (time) closer to the goal than United. Five, six times clear – and (David) de Gea didn’t save. We were there but we didn’t finish.
“That is what you have to improve. If not, it is so, so difficult. In the end, the difference between the big clubs is how you are in the boxes.
“When you arrive there and you don’t need too many chances to score goals you become a good, good team.”
Guardiola is willing to vary tactics within his overall philosophy. That includes playing more directly on occasions but, as he is keen to point out, that is not to be confused with the long ball.
He said: “With the strikers we have, when the opponent comes, you have to use that pass – more direct but not long ball. It’s a pass. It is not to (put) the ball long because I am a big fan of the build-up.”
Based on that, and everything that has gone before in Guardiola’s glittering career, it is assumed he was joking when he also spoke about the long ball as a more viable option in future.
He said: “With Kelechi (Iheanacho), Kun Aguero, it’s not a good solution for me, so maybe in the future we’re going to buy a striker for 220 (centi-) metres and after maybe going to use long balls.”