Saturday 19 October 2019

Guardiola admits nerves got the better of his team

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City succumbed to nerves and admitted the champions had given themselves a mountain to climb in the title race after their worst start to a season for six years.

City suffered their second defeat in four league matches with a 2-0 loss at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and now trail Liverpool by eight points - the biggest lead any side have enjoyed after eight matches in the Premier League era.

City overturned a seven-point deficit to Liverpool to retain the title last season, but the long-term loss of defender Aymeric Laporte is proving costly and they had not had as few shots on target (two) in a Premier League game since the goalless draw at Anfield a year ago.

Guardiola admitted they would have their work cut out trying to haul back the Merseysiders.

"It is a lot of points," the City manager said. "They didn't drop points for many circumstances. Today was the day we created less than the other games, even [in the 3-2 defeat against] Norwich we created a lot. We have faced many teams who defend deep and more or less we found a way to win, but today we had a problem. It is better not to think that one team is eight points ahead.

"I know these guys. Still they are incredibly involved and can do it. What happened, happened. Most teams who won in the past, the year after, don't win. Today we were not in our level. The previous games were good, but the distance is big. I know that.

"Liverpool are not dropping points, but we are in October and there are still a lot of games and competitions to play. It was a bad day, sometimes it happens. We started quite well and, after we conceded two situations in our build-up, where it's impossible to defend, we got a little bit nervous."

Nicolas Otamendi was particularly poor alongside Fernandinho in a makeshift central defence, but Guardiola refused to point fingers.

Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves manager, paid tribute to his players' commitment and was delighted to see Adama Traore score twice.

"I'm very proud, it was a very good performance," he said. "More than the performance, it was the way they ran. City move the ball so fast and it required a lot of running.

"It's not the same City as last season and you have to find solutions, the areas to exploit. The first thing is to stop them playing. My players ran like crazy. Having a fantastic group of players who want to grow makes me proud.

"They believe and want to work. The challenge is to sustain this. Adama played well. He went to the limits for us." (© The Daily Telegraph)

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