Wednesday 18 July 2018

Pep Guardiola understands Sergio Aguero's frustrations at Manchester City

Pep Guardiola is prepared to challenge his players. Photo: Getty Images
Pep Guardiola is prepared to challenge his players. Photo: Getty Images

Rory Dollard

Pep Guardiola says Sergio Aguero will decide his own future at Manchester City after the striker's brace sealed a 4-0 win over Bournemouth and his own century of goals at the Etihad Stadium.

Aguero netted for the 100th time on home turf when he headed City into a first-half lead against the Cherries, then began chipping away at his next hundred by nodding a second in a powerful second half from the Premier League leaders.

Raheem Sterling and Danilo were the other names on the scoresheet as City wrapped up their 17th straight league win, but this was a day for Aguero to soak up the acclaim at a ground he has graced with so many great moments.

With the title well on the way to being decided, and the eventual scale of City's triumph the only real point of debate, post-match talk soon turned to the Argentina striker's long-term status at the club.

He faces constant competition from Gabriel Jesus at the head of Guardiola's attack, and an ongoing interest in Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez would further crowd the field.

"I respect Sergio a lot, about all he has done and what he will do in the future," said Guardiola when quizzed about the 29-year-old. "He is a legend; he will decide absolutely everything about his life and his future. I'm delighted to have him here with Gabriel and all the squad."

Guardiola accepts his own popularity with individuals in the dressing room depended entirely on his team selections but is prepared to frustrate his players, Aguero included, as long as the bond within the squad remains at its current level.

"I was a football player and I understand when players are substituted or don't play they are sad and upset. I try to have the best relationship as possible with my players," said the manager.

"I understand completely when they are upset but sometimes I think Gabriel deserves to play too. The important thing is the respect between each other - don't be happy with me, that's not a problem.

"The most important thing, and our secret, is they have amazing relations between them. The locker room with the players and staff is a dream to go and train with them every day."

With 55 points from a possible 57 banked at the season's mid-point, 60 goals scored and just 12 conceded, speculation about City piecing together an 'invincible' undefeated season is gathering steam.

Guardiola has done what he can to play down the possibility, and Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe attempted to do the same, despite his side's emphatic failure to give their hosts a bloody nose.

"I think anyone is beatable," he said. "But they look very strong, take nothing away from them. There's a good feel about them, they look confident and they have outstanding players."

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