Pep talk lacks zip
Middlesbrough make point against City
All that talk of a Manchester City procession to the Premier League title has been exposed as laughably premature.
Pep Guardiola has now seen his side held domestically by Southampton, Everton and Middlesbrough in consecutive home games following the shock of conceding Marten de Roon’s 92nd minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.
City’s perfect start – 10 wins out of 10 – following Pep’s arrival suddenly seems a long time ago. And it’s not as if they can play Barcelona every week.
Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes was in inspired form on his return to Manchester where he spent an unhappy 18 months with United, making only two appearances and falling out with Louis van Gaal.
He made a string of saves, most notably a world-class one from David Silva, before conceding to Aguero after 43 minutes.
City dominated with 71 per cent possession but couldn’t make the game safe, paying the price a couple of minutes after Sergio Aguero had departed to a standing ovation, George Friend crossing to the far post where Dutchman de Roon had peeled off Gael Clichy to power in a header for his first Boro goal.
Guardiola was uncharacteristically graceless afterwards. Partly due to his understandable disappointment and partly perhaps because Boro’s manager Aitor Karanka used to be No2 to Guardiola’s nemesis at Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and had claimed
“We played well, we created more than enough chances to win the game. They played with 10 players in the box for 90 minutes,” said Guardiola.
“If we had won 1-0. we would be talking about a good performance. But when you arrive in the last minutes just 1-0, anything can happen. We are not good enough in the penalty area but we will improve.”
Asked to compliment Boro’s defensive steel, Guardiola snapped: “I am not here to talk about the performance of my opponent. Their coach knows better than me the way they want to play. They scored with their only chance.”
Only when talking about Aguero’s 150th did the City boss lighten up. “Big congratulations. A huge mark, I only scored 11 in my career,” he smiled.City must have feared a post-Barcelona hangover given the effort.”
Manchester City’s David Silva in action with Middlesbrough’s Adama Traore.