Wednesday 16 October 2019

Guardiola in no rush to give City youth its head

Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA

Jamie Jackson

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City could not compete for silverware and league titles if his side were filled with players coming through from the club's academy. The City manager defended the conspicuous lack of talent emerging to become regular first-team starters.

Players such as Phil Foden have yet to hold down a regular place in the Premier League and despite the opening of the City academy in December 2014 the club still buy in big-name players rather than pushing forward the youngsters they have nurtured themselves. Chelsea, albeit because of a transfer embargo, are now doing the latter with some success.

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"This team needs to win titles and prizes and the process for the young players needs time and the best way is step by step. But the demand from the club [is] not winning the Champions League but being there every time, in all competitions and that needs the [senior] players we have," Guardiola said.

"When they are talented, they will play. But at the same time, we have to compete every day to fight with the best. For that we need the David Silvas, Kevin De Bruynes, Sergio Agüeros and Fernandinhos. But if the basis of the team is young, it is not possible."

Foden is highly regarded but the 19-year-old has made just three appearances this season, starting only the EFL Cup win at Preston in September, and may not be in the XI for the visit of Wolves today. Guardiola was asked if the midfielder is content to be patient. "I didn't speak with him so I don't know. Hopefully," he said, before brushing aside concerns that young players will be put off signing if they see the pathway to first-team football being blocked.

Raheem Sterling was signed at 20 and has consistently played under Guardiola. "I don't see the age. If the player wants to come, they will, if they don't, they will not. Everyone knows exactly what my opinion of Phil Foden is. He will play a lot this season and the next seasons."

Since John Stones was injured almost three weeks ago, Guardiola has been forced to play Fernandinho, a midfielder, alongside Nicolás Otamendi at centre-back, or pair teenagers Eric García and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, as he did at Preston, yet City have conceded just once in winning their past five games.

"Against Everton we were lucky, Ederson saved two or three clear chances. We are not built specifically for [defending] and we have to learn better. But in general I'm so satisfied," he said.

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