Decoding Pep’s plan with Julian Alvarez
It was not a huge surprise when Alvarez was on the bench for Haaland in the first couple of games. You could attribute it to a wide variety of factors, but looking at how Haaland started the season, there was only little that Alvarez could do to get into the team. I know that both Haaland and Alvarez are extremely different kind of players with vastly unique attributes. But, the only similarity between them is how Pep wants to use both these striking sensations. Pep is very adamant that he wants to play Alvarez through the middle and not out wide.
What is the problem in playing Alvarez out wide?
Alvarez has shown in his scintillating performance against Forest that he can be brutal from the wide positions as well. If you think that Forest could be an aberration, then you are in for some serious disillusion. Alvarez was great against Crystal Palace and Dortmund as well. In fact, we were struggling in both those games and were also a goal down. The fascinating thing is that Pep turned to Alvarez in the second half for both those games. This shows us the amount of trust that Pep has on Alvarez.
One of the first exercises that all of the fans are doing right now is to search for Julian Alvarez on the line up sheet. But, even after producing excellent performances whenever he has been given a chance, Pep is not starting Alvarez. We all can understand why Pep is not starting Alvarez in the striking position. But, we have a problem in the right wing position. Mahrez has not exactly been in good form and there is a sort of void in that position
I know that Foden is doing quite well there, but Foden is more effective on the left wing, where he can run at the full backs and be super lethal. So, it’s a no brainer that Pep has to start Julian Alvarez on the right. To add with that fact, whenever Pep has played Alvarez – Haaland – Foden, we have looked super stable. Both defensively and offensively it looked the perfect combination.
What does Pep think about Alvarez’s best position?
I know that I am just mentioning the problems out there, instead of hitting the nail on the head. But, it is vital for us to understand the best qualities of Alvarez to come to a conclusion on where Pep wants to play him. The one thing about Pep is that he takes his time when transitioning a player into the team. He looks to fit the player into the absolute best position for his system. He wants the player to realize his best attributes in that system.
So, maybe we are missing something that Pep has seen in Alvarez. When we signed Alvarez everyone thought that he could be the next Sergio Aguero, primarily due to his lethal goal scoring statistics. But, a lot of river plate fans were stating that he is a player in the mold of Thomas Mueller. So, suddenly you can see how there is even a mystery around the the best position and attributes of Julian Alvarez.
The position behind Haaland?
You can see the best work done by Julian Alvarez is actually without the ball. His pressing and work rate is just out of this world. For me, he comes across as a player who has smart movement to operate in behind the striker. I know that role is now occupied by Gundogan, but i think Alvarez could be much better suited to that role. Now, Gundogan is doing exceptionally well there, but Alvarez has that tenacity in pressing and he is a striker by nature. So, we could get more out of Alvarez playing in that role.
It is still a huge mystery for me that Alvarez has got as little games as he has done this season. In any other team in the world, he would be starting day in and day out. But, given the track record of Pep in creating superstars, we must place extreme trust in him to carve out an other diamond from Alvarez. I have no doubt that Alvarez will be a future Balon D ‘Or contender along with Haaland. It’s not just about his talent, but his reading of the game and the way he controls the tempo of the game even from the front is just outstanding. These are all rare qualities and we certainly have a precious gem on our hands. It’s now unto Pep Guardiola to chisel this gem of a player in the right way and take him to the absolute summit.