Saturday 21 April 2018

Pep Guardiola: Maybe I am not good enough for Manchester City players

Pep Guardiola has defended his Manchester City players
Pep Guardiola has defended his Manchester City players

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has defended his "amazing" players, and admitted: "Maybe I am not good enough for them."

City have lacked consistency since opening the season with 10 successive wins, and Guardiola conceded defeat in the title race after last weekend's 4-0 loss at Everton left them 10 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Their form has raised questions of the quality of Guardiola's squad and whether he believes he has the right players. This is something he resents.

He said: "They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good?

"So I don't understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have been amazing players, and (people saying) they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them.

"They are Manchester City players, top players. They have a lot of quality. They have shown that many times in the past and this season."

One player who has come in for particularly regular criticism is goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who was controversially brought in by Guardiola to replace England number one Joe Hart earlier in the campaign.

The 33-year-old Chilean did not make a single save last week as Everton scored from all four of their shots at Goodison Park, but Guardiola feels he himself must shoulder some of the blame for that.

Guardiola has not settled on a regular defensive line this term, making numerous changes in terms of both personnel and formation.

Asked if this may have been an issue, Guardiola said: "Maybe, maybe. Yes, maybe. Yes, (I take) all the responsibility as a manager.

"I never in my life - never - say the reason why we lost is because of Claudio Bravo. It's one of the reasons why, but there are many many other reasons why.

"Maybe the reason why is because we changed the defence - maybe - but we will never know that."

Guardiola, meanwhile, has indicated Sergio Aguero has signed a one-year contract extension.

It was reported last summer that the Argentina striker had agreed to stay at City for an additional 12 months on top of the five-year deal he signed in 2014.

But this was not confirmed by the club at the time, nor has it been since, despite the issue having resurfaced on occasions.

The deal does appear to have been done, however, with Guardiola all but saying as much at his press conference on Friday.

"He has already signed a contract extension, I think," the Catalan said after being asked what he and Aguero discussed when dining together on Thursday.

The pair were spotted at a Manchester city centre restaurant in the company of Aguero's agent, sparking speculation they may have been talking about the player's future at City.

Guardiola said: "No, we didn't speak about the contract. He has already a long contract here. He has a lot of money and wanted to invite his coach to have dinner. That is what it is."

Aguero, 28, has scored 18 goals this season and 154 since joining City in 2011 but Guardiola has regularly had to deny the player does not figure in his long-term plans.

The City boss again reiterated that Aguero will leave the club at a time of his own choosing.

He said: "Sergio will be here until he decides to be here. He's our best striker. We have a problem with goals so we need him."

Press Association

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