Pep Guardiola says a return to a tried-and-tested formula has helped propel Manchester City back to the Premier League summit.
City, who lead city rivals Manchester United by a point with a game in hand, are strong favourites to win a third English top-flight title in four years.
Guardiola’s men, who host Sheffield United on Saturday, will hope to avoid the fate of their Manchester rivals, who lost 2-1 at home to the bottom side in midweek.
The City boss, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, said he had switched tactics after a patchy start to the season.
His side are now on an 11-match winning run in the Premier League and have won their past seven games.
“I didn’t like the way we were playing,” said Guardiola. “In previous seasons, the wingers were wider and higher, so we came back to our principles.
“For many reasons, we had to adapt to the quality we had and the players we had in that moment. That is the reason I tried to find the way.
“In the end, I felt having the wingers wide and high helped us to be more stable and the quality of the players do the rest. When we have the ball, we run less.”
Guardiola denied that the lack of early-season consistency was due to a lack of fight or spirit.
“The reason we didn’t play well was because when we had the ball we ran too much,” he said.
“When we have the ball we need to walk. When we don’t have the ball you have to run with your life. Now I think we are calmer.”
Guardiola, whose side beat struggling West Brom 5-0 on Tuesday, said playing Sheffield United was “always uncomfortable”.
“That system — the 5-3-2 — is difficult to attack,” he said. “I am a little bit concerned about the game tomorrow.”
Guardiola will once again be without record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who is still self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.