David Moyes has likened Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for his tactical innovations that defy convention.
Blumenthal is famous for coming up with unusual recipes such as bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream and snail porridge, which work despite the ingredients.
West Ham boss Moyes, aiming to end City’s 19-game winning run on Saturday, feels the same about Guardiola.
“Pep is the Heston Blumenthal of football,” said Moyes.
Former Barcelona coach Guardiola’s latest move has been to use Joao Cancelo as a full-back and a midfield pivot at the same time, a tactic that has flummoxed a series of opposing managers.
“Blumenthal will do something stupid or outrageous that you would never dream of, like mixing chocolate with eggs and you think ‘that is never going to work, it is not going to taste right or look good’. But it does,” Moyes added.
“Pep does things in football terms which are remarkable, that lots of other people would not have thought of. I hold him in such high esteem. He is innovative and always looking for new ideas.
“I get this feeling he is in a think-tank room, thinking about how he can make his players perform better, or where they can receive the ball in space and make it difficult for the opposition.”
In cooking terms, Moyes likens himself to fellow Scot Gordon Ramsay, famous for his fiery temper and choice language: “You know what you are getting there don’t you?”
However, stopping Cancelo is not proving to be a particularly amusing pastime and is causing Moyes to think hard about how to go about getting the kind of positive result that will keep his side in the top four.
“How you deal with it takes up a lot of your thought time,” he said. “If it is a level playing field, you might say we will take you on and do our own thing. When your players are maybe not at the level of the ones Manchester City have it is a struggle.”
‘The artists are the players’
While West Ham travel to Etihad Stadium (kick-off 12.30 GMT) after beating Tottenham on Sunday, Premier League leaders City’s impressive winning run continued with a one-sided Champions League triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday,
Following that 2-0 victory, Guardiola said City’s current form and the club’s success since his appointment in 2016 was simply down to the money they had spent.
“We have a lot of money to buy a lot of incredible players,” he said on Wednesday. “Without good quality players we cannot do it.”
Returning to the topic in Friday’s press conference, Guardiola reiterated that “the difference is the players” and played down his own influence.
“I would tell you if I believed the reason [for our success] was me,” Guardiola said. “I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I’m so handsome and that’s the reason why. It’s not like that. It’s the players. The big clubs have incredible success and it’s due to the quality of the players, the mentality.”
City, who have won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups under Guardiola, have made several big-money signings during the Spaniard’s tenure – with £65m defender Ruben Dias the most recent arrival in September.
Riyad Mahrez, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones have all also arrived for fees in excess of £50m.
“I came here to win in England and we have done it already – but I did it,” Guardiola added. “I came to play in a special way and I did it. The job is done, but still I have the feeling we can do better.
“For a short time, you can do it without top players but sustaining for a long time – in an incredible organisation that supports their manager so the journalists and the players know he will not be sacked – this is so important.
“After that, [you need] top quality players. I never in my 12 years as manager scored a goal. I never saved a penalty. The artists are the players. All we can do is help them, knowing that doing the same, you can lose.”