I trust them a lot - Guardiola backs City stars who flopped against Leeds

By Sports Desk April 10, 2021

Pep Guardiola insisted he had no regrets over ringing the changes as Manchester City went down to a shock 2-1 defeat at home against Leeds United.

Stuart Dallas broke away to score his second of the game in stoppage time to give Marcelo Bielsa's men a hard-fought triumph over the Premier League leaders, despite losing captain Liam Cooper to a red card shortly before half-time.

Ferran Torres cancelled out Dallas' first-half opener with 14 minutes to play but it was a frustrating outing in front of goal for Guardiola's men overall as they racked up 29 largely fruitless attempts and Leeds scored from their only two shots.

City will defend a slender 2-1 advantage in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Borussia Dortmund and Guardiola named an XI showing seven changes from the initial encounter with the Bundesliga side.

Spain forward Torres was making only his third Premier League start since the beginning of February, while centre-back Nathan Ake played for the first time in 2021 following a serious hamstring injury.

"When you win I'm a genius, when you lose you have to take it," Guardiola said at a post-match news conference.

"I don't have regrets about the 11 selected because I trust them a lot. Maybe they don't trust me, but I trust them. If I didn't trust them they would not play.

"John [Stones] was fantastic, Nathan, Benja [Benjamin Mendy], all of them. Everyone was good.

"Playing against Leeds is difficult because they are used to winning duels and when you beat that duel they come back more aggressive than before to dribble again."

Guardiola blamed the defeat on City failing to stem counter-attacks when Leeds emerged from their defensive shell during the closing minutes, with Ederson making a vital sliding challenge to deny Raphinha before Dallas latched on to Ezgjan Alioski's throughball with aplomb.

"It is a game of transitions. We had to avoid it, they did it. We defended well at their goal kicks, short and long. And after, 10 against 11, we needed inspiration of the players and especially don't let them run," Guardiola said, having withdrawn Ake in favour of playmaker Ilkay Gundogan before the hour mark – a move that appeared to leave City more vulnerable on the break.

"We did it during 37 minutes [in the second half] but before the goal we conceded Raphinha had a chance and Edi saved. The second one at the end we could not control it and we had to.

"In the last five years, always we work and talk about that. When you attack and attack and attack, always we have to control and don't let them run. If you don't, then it's impossible to play in this way."

If that is a lesson Guardiola is preparing to repeat once again before his squad heads to Signal Iduna Park, he will also be keen to draw attention to their recent achievements with pivotal fixtures on the horizon.

City take on Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next weekend before returning to England's national stadium on April 25 to face Tottenham and attempt to win a fourth consecutive EFL Cup.

"What happens when you lose a game is you realise how difficult it is, what we've done so far," he added, with a maximum of 10 points required from their final six Premier League games for City to secure the title.

"When you see in the last 28 games we have won 26, you realise how difficult it is what we have done.

"The Premier League must be won. We need points still because now our opponent can win all the games. We need to do it again.

"We have Aston Villa in the middle, but three of the next four games are finals - in the Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

"If you tell me about faith, wow, we have incredible confidence in the guys. Sometimes defeat is necessary to understand what we have done and what we need to do to move forward."

Related items

  • Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case

    Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has been placed in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

    All tests conducted on Kroos up until this point have come back negative but he is now at home as per COVID-19 protocols.

    Madrid are playing away against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in their penultimate LaLiga game of the season.

    They are locked in a thrilling title race with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, as their city rivals lead the standings by two points with only two matches to go.

    "Real Madrid reports that our player Toni Kroos is currently in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, although all tests carried out on the player have come back negative," read a statement from the club on Friday.

    It will be hoped that Kroos' situation does not evolve as Federico Valverde's did last month.

    Valverde initially had to isolate due to being a close contact before producing a positive test five days later which then ruled him out of a key Champions League match with Chelsea.

    Kroos has been a key figure for Madrid this season, featuring in 28 of their league matches.

    After a gruelling schedule, he was rested by Zinedine Zidane last time out against Granada ahead of the testing trip to San Mames.

  • Klopp 'completely relaxed' over Mane handshake snub Klopp 'completely relaxed' over Mane handshake snub

    Jurgen Klopp will talk to Sadio Mane about his post-match handshake snub at Old Trafford but the Liverpool boss says the incident is being blown out of proportion.

    Mane was named among the substitutes for the Reds' clash with fierce rivals Manchester United on Thursday and replaced Diogo Jota in the second half of a 4-2 Premier League win.

    The Senegal forward was clearly not impressed that he had been dropped to the bench, heading for the tunnel with his back to Klopp when the Liverpool boss went for a handshake on the pitch at full-time.

    Klopp revealed that he had not explained to the former Southampton man why he was not in the starting line-up prior to the match.

    The German reiterated on Friday that he would speak to Mane but did not take the snub personally.

    He said in a press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to West Brom: "I cannot make a bigger story of it as it is.

    "Football is an emotional game and everybody expects us to control our emotions always. It doesn't work out always, that's the case. It happened to me as a player, it happened to other players when I was their coach.

    "So far we've had no real chance to talk about it, but we will and everything will be fine. Do we want these things to happen? No, but it's not the first time in my life and I'm afraid to say it probably will not be the last time, so that's it."

    Klopp added: "If somebody shows me respect five million times and one time not, what is more important?

    "The world is in difficult situation where you make this one time bigger than necessary, that is unfortunately the case and I hope for you your boss will not forget if you one time don't show respect, that he then doesn't forget all the other stuff.

    "I'm completely relaxed about it, if you would have seen me as a player what I did out of emotion, it was insane and I'm a completely normal guy. If nothing else, we will talk about it and it will be sorted."

    Victory for Liverpool at The Hawthorns this weekend would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to go in the battle for Champions League qualification.

  • Lingard named Premier League Player of the Month as fine loan spell continues Lingard named Premier League Player of the Month as fine loan spell continues

    Jesse Lingard has been named the Premier League Player of the Month for April, winning the award after also being nominated in February and March.

    The attacking midfielder has thrived since joining West Ham on loan from Manchester United.

    Lingard scored four goals and added an assist in four appearances over the course of the month as West Ham continued their push for a European place.

    He has nine goals and three assists in 13 Premier League outings for West Ham so far since joining, having been out of the picture under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half of the season at Old Trafford.

    The fine form he has shown earned Lingard an England recall in March.

    Mason Greenwood was one of the other members of an eight-man shortlist which also contained Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stuart Dallas, Kelechi Iheanacho, Matheus Pereira, Allan Saint-Maximin and Chris Wood.

    "I've been nominated for the past two months and even getting nominated is a great feeling for me," said Lingard, who recently received praise from Bruno Fernandes when the United playmaker labelled him the top-flight's best player over the past 10 games.

    "I want to be up there as the best I can be and the best in the world.

    "David Moyes has shown faith and given me the freedom in each game to go and perform."

    Meanwhile, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is April's manager of the month.

    He beat Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Solskjaer to the award after a month which saw Newcastle draw with Liverpool and Tottenham while recording wins over Burnley and West Ham.

    It was a run of form that secured Newcastle's Premier League safety.

    Bruce won the award for the first time after 19 years and 465 matches in the competition.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.