Tuesday 25 October 2016

Pep Guardiola won't close the door on Joe Hart

Published 13/08/2016 | 20:01

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, pictured, says he could recall Joe Hart next week
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, pictured, says he could recall Joe Hart next week

Pep Guardiola claims his decision to leave out Joe Hart could prove a one-off.

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The new Manchester City boss sprang a surprise in his first match in charge by dropping the England goalkeeper in favour of Willy Caballero.

The decision is certain to fuel speculation over the 29-year-old's future but Guardiola says his thinking could change for Tuesday's Champions League qualifier at Steaua Bucharest.

The Spaniard, who saw his side beat Sunderland 2-1 in their Premier League opener, said: "Of course he can play. All the players in the squad can play.

"I have a lot of respect for Joe, a lot of respect for his career. I know how good a goalkeeper he is, but today I decided for Willy. That is all.

"I think Willy make a good pre-season - really, really good. He gave me today a lot of confidence for his build-up play, for his personality and that's why I choose him.

"In the end I have a squad and I decide what I see. I have to create a team spirit. It's not about tactics, it's not about anything, and I decided today for this line-up.

"That does not mean in the future they are not going to play or they are going to play."

Some reports have claimed Guardiola would like more of a ball-playing goalkeeper in the mould of his former Bayern Munich number one Manuel Neuer.

But while Guardiola has not denied this is how he would like a goalkeeper to play, he insists Hart - who joined up for pre-season training later than others after international duty - could still be his choice.

He said: "Willy trained in more training sessions than Joe. We spent a lot of time working two on one, three on two, four on three, using the goalkeeper in training more. That doesn't mean Joe can't do that."

Guardiola's side did not have things their own way against David Moyes' men, but got their campaign off to a winning start courtesy of an 87th-minute Paddy McNair own goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Sergio Aguero opened the scoring with an early penalty but veteran Jermain Defoe looked to have snatched a point when he equalised 19 minutes from time.

Guardiola, who also left out Yaya Toure, said: "I am very pleased with our performance. We were a team. We played very good in the first 10-15 minutes.

"In the second half until the goal from Defoe, we played really, really well. We made a really good build-up process and the spirit was perfect.

"We kept going, got the result. For the first game there were so many good things that I didn't expect to see. When we don't play good I will be the first to say we played bad but I think we deserved our victory."

Lamine Kone impressed for Sunderland despite reports he wanted to quit the club.

Everton have made an offer for the 27-year-old and a statement was released under his name on Friday stating he had asked to leave.

Moyes claimed the defender knew nothing about it and believes he will remain at the Stadium of Light.

Moyes said: "I expect him to stay. Strangely enough when I pulled the boy yesterday he didn't know anything about his statement. He didn't know much about it at all but it was said and his name was put to it. The boy was great, he was great today, he was great yesterday.

"We've told him on September 1 we will look to do a contract and also we've also had an offer from Everton. We've not hidden anything."

Moyes lost his first Premier League game since his dismissal as Manchester United manager, following a 2-0 defeat to Everton in April 2014, after replacing new England boss Sam Allardyce last month.

Sunderland made City work for their victory and defeat was harsh after Defoe's leveller but Moyes was pleased with his players' application.

He said: "It was gut-wrenching. We did a great job in containing them as best we could. We had a game plan, we knew we weren't going to have an awful lot of the ball, and we had just about done the job - but just about is not enough.

"I'm disappointed with the way we defended the second goal. I think we backed off too much and allowed the ball to be played across the six-yard box, which made it really difficult whether it be a defender or a striker with a great chance of scoring a goal or an own goal.

"But overall I thought the players did really well. I don't want to pat them on the back for losing, but a pat on the back would come from the way they stuck at their job, kept going and coming very close to getting a result."

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