Pep Guardiola has recently shared his strategy of personally handpicking the penalty-takers for Manchester City during their victorious Uefa Super Cup clash against Sevilla.
Following a past error in judgment when he allowed the players to determine the takers in a shootout against Arsenal for the Community Shield, Guardiola opted to take charge this time around.
In the contest held in Athens, City clinched the title by successfully converting all five penalty kicks, securing the win after a 1-1 draw in regular time. Notably, Sevilla's Nemanja Gudelj's shot struck the crossbar from 12 yards, granting Guardiola's team the advantage.
The accomplishment of the penalty shootout was attributed to Guardiola's astute selection of all five takers. This was a marked contrast to the previous encounter with Arsenal, where the players themselves decided the takers, resulting in a loss for City against the treble winners.
In an interview with TNT Sports, Guardiola affirmed, "This time, they didn’t choose who were the takers, I chose the takers."
During the Community Shield match against Arsenal at Wembley, both Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri faltered in converting their penalties, which allowed Fabio Vieira to secure victory for Arsenal with a successful shot.
This setback spurred Guardiola to take direct control in the Super Cup final, a decision that led to triumph. Notably, players like Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez, Mateo Kovacic, Jack Grealish, and Kyle Walker all found the net against Sevilla, clinching the victory.
Guardiola specifically lauded Kyle Walker, an English defender, for his penalty success. Despite it being Walker's first-ever penalty attempt, he executed it successfully, showcasing the players' strong mental attitude, as penalties are inherently a psychological challenge.
Reflecting on his managerial achievements, Guardiola highlighted the unique honor of being the first manager to secure the Super Cup with three distinct clubs—Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and now Manchester City. This achievement contributed to City's growing trophy collection, which now boasts four prestigious titles.
Guardiola expressed his sentiments, stating, "It’s so nice to arrive at training every morning and see all four trophies there. I say ‘wow, it’s so difficult to do that’. We are really pleased, I’m sorry. But, we have to continue. The nice thing is that it’s a trophy the club didn’t have, like the Champions League, and I will always remember being a part of that for many, many years, that I was part of an incredible group of people to do something for the first time. A first kiss is a first kiss!"
Guardiola's focus on the team's success might be momentarily clouded by the situation surrounding Lucas Paqueta, as a potential move for the West Ham midfielder has been put on hold. The Football Association is currently investigating potential betting breaches related to Paqueta.
Looking ahead, the Premier League champions are set to defend their title against Newcastle United on the upcoming Saturday.